Since Brookings is such a popular location for raising a family, there are a lot of young families and first-time buyers around who could use a bit of help making smart decisions. When you buy a family home, you're usually planning to live there for a long time—at least ten to fifteen years—it's of the utmost importance to take your time and make a good decision. After all, if you overlook an important issue, you could have long-term trouble down the line. So whether you're a first-time buyer or you're moving up from a starter home, here are some key ideas to keep in mind to help you make the right decision.
1. Determine Your Long-Term Budget—and Stick to It!
While you can get swept away when you're offered a big loan, or when you see that perfect house that's just a little outside your price range, you should take your time to work out what a realistic budget will look like for you in the long run. Remember that owning a home means more than just paying the mortgage—you also have to consider property taxes, maintenance and utility costs, and the costs of any repairs or renovations you'll need to do right off the bat. You should also factor in the long-term costs that might arise. For example, if you're planning to have another (or your first!) child, you should keep that in mind when figuring out what you can afford.
Once you have a clear picture of your long-term budget, you should get pre-approved for a mortgage you can afford. Pre-approval is a really effective tool for showing sellers that you're serious and that you've done your homework, making them more likely to accept your offer. It also makes the closing process faster. And in the long run, going into the home-search with a clear idea of your price range will make it more likely that you choose a home that's right for you. After all, what good is an extra bedroom or a pool if you can't pay your bills? Instead, you should plan to renovate your home once your budget increases down the line.
2. Know What You Need—and What You're Buying
So you've just had a look at the perfect house. It's beautiful, it's the right size, and you can afford it! But before you jump into a purchase, make sure you know what you need long-term. You may just have a two-year-old now, but will there be enough bedrooms for the kids that follow? Will there be other kids in the neighborhood for your children to play with? What about schools? Sure, the elementary school is close, but where's the high school? Will it be safe for your kids to walk alone when they're older, or is there too much traffic? Ask yourself all of these questions and more, to figure out not just what your family needs now, but what you'll need in five, ten, or fifteen years.
Then, make sure that you know what you're buying. Make sure to have the home properly inspected, so that you don't lose money on structural problems down the line. Look into the quality of nearby schools. Go for walks in the neighborhood during the day, and check out how safe it is at night. Try to meet some of the other people living there. This may sound like a lot of work, but it will save you a lot of trouble over the coming years, since you'll be able to rule out locations that would cause problems for your family.
There are a lot of factors involved in a home sale, from the condition of the house to the appliances that come with it, not to mention the price. With so many different pieces to the puzzle, you will have a lot of flexibility to negotiate a sale that works well for you. The sellers may be unwilling to budge on some issues, but entirely receptive to other requests—and, especially with a long-term investment like a family home, it never hurts to ask for what you need.
It also never hurts to have proper representation for negotiations like these. Home sales are complicated, and, if you're an inexperienced homebuyer, you'll benefit immensely from having an expert on your side to help you get the best deal for you. I speak from experience—I've been helping young families find their homes for over a decade. If you want advice on choosing a family home in or near Brookings, give me a shout!