Is it possible to buy anything without some emotional attachment? Even when we grab a slice of our favorite pizza, the smell and taste of it can bring back memories of time spent with friends and family. And pizza is such a small thing to spend a few dollars on.
A house is so much bigger. A bigger investment. A longer lasting attachment. When you think about buying a house — whether it’s a starter home or the place you’ll spend your retirement — you’re not just thinking about a physical space.
You’re dreaming up memories in the making. The time you’ll host that yearly Christmas get-together or summer family reunion. The moments you’ll spend with children and grandchildren, rocking them on the front porch and baking cookies together in your country kitchen.
Buying a house stirs up so many emotions. Yet, the last thing anyone needs is to make such a big purchase while riding an emotional wave.
So how can you buy a house without letting those emotions drive every decision? Here are a few tips:
1. Be sure you’re in a good financial place to invest in a new home.
If you’re thinking about buying a house when interest rates are low, that’s good thinking. But be careful not to jump in the real estate market only because of the low rates.
Instead, take a step back from the exciting prospect of owning a new home and assess your finances. Have you met your financial goals for savings, retirement, a down payment? Ask yourself:
- Do I have a budget in place that’s working well?
- Do I have a 6-month emergency fund set aside for the unexpected?
- Am I contributing to a retirement savings plan?
- Do I have 10 – 20% of the cost of a new home set aside for a down payment?
If you can answer yes to all of the above, you’re in a good place to think about investing in a new home.
If you’re struggling financially or are unsure whether you have enough savings to get you by in an emergency, it may not be the best time to take on the additional responsibility of a mortgage.
Consider renting while you get your finances in a better place to invest and also take this time to really think about what you want in a new home. Then when the time comes, you’ll know what to look for.
2. Know what your budget is and stick to it.
After you’ve taken a good, hard look at your finances, you’ll have a solid idea of what your budget is. Don’t stray from it.
In an economy where houses are selling like hotcakes, it would be easy to get caught up in a bidding war for a house you fall in love with the moment you step in the back door.
But bidding wars can push prices far beyond where they should be, so make an offer based on your budget and stick to it. Resist the temptation to counter offer a little higher and a little higher because before you know it, the price could be outside what you can afford.
3. Make a list of what you’re looking for and what to watch out for.
Know how many bedrooms and bathrooms you need for the home to function best for your family. Know how many square feet and how much yard space. Don’t worry about what others get by with. You just need to know what works for you… and what doesn’t.
If your family of five needs two full bathrooms so everyone can get ready and out the door on time for work and school, don’t settle for the house that just has one and a half, thinking you’ll make do.
Also be careful not to overlook small things because you’re excited about the location of a house or it’s near perfect back yard. The backyard may be perfect for your kids and grandkids, but is that leaky kitchen sink a sign of plumbing problems?
Be sure to find out before sinking your savings into a house with water leaks or other small issues that may signal bigger problems.
4. Get the house inspected and get any problems fixed.
Hire a professional to determine whether the leaky sink is just that or something more. And use the inspector’s input to help you decide whether to keep moving forward in the buying process.
With small issues, negotiate to get them repaired first. Let larger issues — a leaky sink that’s a sign of plumbing problems throughout the house, for example — be your guide for moving on to other prospective homes.
5. Be sure you love both the location of the house and the layout.
We’ve all heard “location, location, location.” Experts say location is everything, and loving the location of your new home truly is one of the most important aspects of investing in it.
What if your home has the perfect layout and a dreamy wraparound porch, but it takes you 30 more minutes to get to work every day and 20 more to get to your parents’ home, where your kids spend a few afternoons a week?
You may tell yourself that it’s just a few more minutes, but those minutes turn into hours quickly. Before long, you may be resenting the drive that feels a lot like lost time adding up day in and day out.
Or maybe the location in a historic neighborhood couldn’t be better, but your dream of an open floor plan is lost in a more traditional layout with separate kitchen, dining room, and living room.
When we’re excited about getting into a new home, being closer to family or cutting our workday commute, it’s easy to think we’ll just get used to the layout of the house, even if it’s not what we really want.
But don’t settle for a layout you don’t love. Look for a location that fits your needs and a layout that your family can function well in… and enjoy.
When you’re ready to buy a new home, keep these tips in mind and balance emotions with logic so you can make the best decision for your family. Also, be sure to check with the professionals at Gaskill Realty for assistance navigating the ins and outs of the real estate market.