Buying Your First Home
Chapter 1 - Location, Location, Location (Return to Contents) Choosing where to live is almost as important as the type of home you want to live in. While this is a very personal decision, there are pros and cons to every neighborhood. But wherever you want to live, you will have to know where the highways are located, grocery stores, schools, shopping and health facilities and how far from work and recreation you will be. It is also the community and the accessibility to places and events that mean the most to you and to your family. It is never just a home for sale or another contract.  It's more than a zip code, more than a skylight.  More than a hardwood floor or big back yard. When it is right, a home is not just the roof over your head or where you park your car. A house is where you come to life, it is your sanctuary, it is where you will raise your family and grow old with your true love.  IT IS YOUR HOME!  It is the real best definition of who you are! It defines you as an individual, as a couple and as a family. Buying a Home, Don't Choose by Price Alone With so much talk in the past about reduced prices and bargains for home buyers, most folks looking for a house are expecting to find a "real steal" when they go house hunting. This may be the true in certain markets. But there's a reason why homes in some spots have fallen in price more than homes in other spots.  Research and historical data will help you determine  wide discrepancies in how much home prices had fallen from one market area to another. Some were only down about 25% while others were down 67% and now that the bottom has past the market is trending up some markets have eliminated all reductions in the past. I expect it's the same in other cities as well. So what makes the difference? Location The number of lender-owned homes The other people in the neighborhood Age and condition of the surrounding homes All of these factors affect home pricing and values. And even as the housing crisis is over, all but the number of lender-owned homes will still be a factor in the value of those homes. Location covers a lot of different issues, and the desirability of a any given location varies from one homebuyer to another. But start with thinking about issues such the proximity to factories that belch out smoke or fill the air with noise around the clock. Nearby airports or rail lines can be a factor, because they mean noise. Homes in flood zones may be cheap - but the desirability  is less and the flood insurance won't be. Homes in communities dependent upon dying industries can be at reduced prices, too - because people are moving away, not in.  Power lines can be a factor and highways also. These are issues that can permanently depress prices, so a bargain home might not be a bargain at all. On a more personal level, buyers need to think about location in terms of their own lives. Saving several thousand dollars on the purchase price of a home is small comfort if they have to drive an additional 60 minutes to work each day. An over-supply of lender-owned or rental homes in the neighborhood may be the one factor that is depressing prices only for the short-term. Their presence will devalue a home, but only until they're sold. So buyers who are in it for the long haul might do well to consider buying in a location such as that - provided that other factors make the home a good choice. The neighborhood is an issue. But it definitely does affect the value of homes. Even if you get a home for 25% of it's value in another location, you should avoid it if all around you are run-down houses, yards filled with trash, and people coming and going that make you uneasy. Owning a home in a neighborhood where you're afraid to go for a walk in the evening is not a wise choice, no matter how low the price. On a more personal level, and beyond the safety/fear factor, neighborhood make-up will affect your happiness in that home. If you're a young mom with small children, you will probably be happiest in a neighborhood with at least a few other young moms with kids. If you're a senior citizen, you might not enjoy a neighborhood filled with noisy children and teens - but on the other hand you might prefer it. The age and condition of the homes is also a factor to consider. Old homes can be charming, but only if they've been maintained. So take a careful look. Is the whole neighborhood on a decline, or are some residents working at fix-up? An old neighborhood on the upswing could be a very good investment. If others are making improvements and the home you find needs work, are you qualified and able to do that work? If you have to hire it all done, the house may not be a bargain at all. The bottom line - don't choose based on price alone. Make sure you're going to be happy with the location, and that you're buying in an area where prices can be expected to appreciate. In most markets the housing market still favors the buyer, but economic signs point to housing slowly emerging from its doldrums and in many areas, buyers can no longer count on the rock-bottom deals of the past two years.  It is simple a sign of reaching the bottom of the market and now is a prime opportunity in the home market. Finding The Right Neighborhood How will you know you have found the right neighborhood? There are many ways to tell: You may feel a sense of calm The neighborhood may remind you of a happy memory You will be close to places you frequent often The neighborhood aesthetics are pleasing, or The rest of your family is pleased You may have friends and acquaintances that live nearby You may feel one emotion or five when you turn the corner onto the street where you want to live. This will be an exciting time, especially if you have been searching for a home for the past few months. When looking for the right location, you should consider the following: How clean is this neighborhood? Is this a high crime area? What is the average home value in the neighborhood? Are there community HOA bylaws? What is the home close to? Is there garbage pickup? and Utilities? Internet and communication facilities While these questions may not include everything you are looking for when buying a home, they should be considered carefully as they will affect your life once you move into the home.  Start by driving the neighborhood,  Stop and talk to the residents, if possible and observe.  Drive it in the morning and then in the afternoon and evening.  Walk about and listen to the sounds and observe.  That will give you honest evaluation for the following key requirements: How Clean Is This Neighborhood? You should look at the neighborhood at different times during the day to see how those who live in the neighborhood take care of it. If there is a lot of trash on the ground, the yards are not kept up properly, or there are old signs posted on trees and telephone poles, then the neighborhood may not be for you. If the neighborhood looks clean and you see people outside caring for their lawns, then you may have found a community of people who care about where they live. This is an important factor if you are planning on living in the neighborhood for many years. All too often people will buy homes only to discover that they live in a neighborhood where people do not have respect for their property or the property of others. This can make selling the home much more difficult in the future. Is This A High Crime Area? While all neighborhoods will experience some crime, you should consider buying a home in an area that has a high crime rate very carefully. While the home itself may be the right price for your budget, it may not be located in an area that is right for your well-being. Drive by the neighborhood at nighttime to see if there is adequate street lighting, suspicious activity, or anything else that might cause you to use caution. Research the neighborhood and find out how the crime rate compares to other neighborhoods. If the crime rate is too high, then it may be best to look somewhere else.  The internet offers free and paid sites to explore this information. Most association rules are well-intended,  you don't want neighbors parking an RV in the driveway or painting their home bright purple.  Most all property comes with restrictions or rules of use.  It can be one of the best ways to assure property appreciation in a well cared for and thought out neighborhood. But not everyone finds the rules reasonable, and disputes have arisen over CCRs that ban exterior Christmas lights or allow only white lights. Even flags , seasonal or official can raise issues.  Some associations enforce pet-weight restrictions so zealously that they put dogs on the scale. Another contentious issue is association amendments that ban home and condo owners from renting out their dwellings. For strapped owners, leasing to tenants could mean the difference between foreclosure and keeping the property. If you plan on renting your property in the future then it becomes import to know the guidelines and rules regarding your home. These are just things to watch for and be aware to catch them, then determine if it is important to you and your lifestyle. There are other things regarding HOA's and lenders that will be covered in the financing chapter. What Is The Home Close To? When choosing a home, you will need to find the nearest shopping, grocery store, schools, route to work, and other necessities that will make living in the neighborhood more convenient. Drive around the neighborhood to see what is around it. This will help make your decision to buy a home in a particular neighborhood much easier. Is There Garbage Pickup? While this may not seem like something you are interested in, when it comes to disposing of your trash, you may need to haul it to the dump yourself. Ask about trash pickup so that you can decide if this is something you really want to do on the weekend. This is really about knowing what services are provided by whom: Water and sewer Trash and Leaf and curbside trash pickup Gas and Electric utility (Private, City Town or Coop) Is sewer septic, is water private well, is the heating oil needed?
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Buying Your First Home
Chapter 1 - Location, Location, Location (Return to Contents) Choosing where to live is almost as important as the type of home you want to live in. While this is a very personal decision, there are pros and cons to every neighborhood. But wherever you want to live, you will have to know where the highways are located, grocery stores, schools, shopping and health facilities and how far from work and recreation you will be. It is also the community and the accessibility to places and events that mean the most to you and to your family. It is never just a home for sale or another contract.  It's more than a zip code, more than a skylight.  More than a hardwood floor or big back yard. When it is right, a home is not just the roof over your head or where you park your car. A house is where you come to life, it is your sanctuary, it is where you will raise your family and grow old with your true love.  IT IS YOUR HOME!  It is the real best definition of who you are! It defines you as an individual, as a couple and as a family. Buying a Home, Don't Choose by Price Alone With so much talk in the past about reduced prices and bargains for home buyers, most folks looking for a house are expecting to find a "real steal" when they go house hunting. This may be the true in certain markets. But there's a reason why homes in some spots have fallen in price more than homes in other spots.  Research and historical data will help you determine  wide discrepancies in how much home prices had fallen from one market area to another. Some were only down about 25% while others were down 67% and now that the bottom has past the market is trending up some markets have eliminated all reductions in the past. I expect it's the same in other cities as well. So what makes the difference? Location The number of lender-owned homes The other people in the neighborhood Age and condition of the surrounding homes All of these factors affect home pricing and values. And even as the housing crisis is over, all but the number of lender-owned homes will still be a factor in the value of those homes. Location covers a lot of different issues, and the desirability of a any given location varies from one homebuyer to another. But start with thinking about issues such the proximity to factories that belch out smoke or fill the air with noise around the clock. Nearby airports or rail lines can be a factor, because they mean noise. Homes in flood zones may be cheap - but the desirability  is less and the flood insurance won't be. Homes in communities dependent upon dying industries can be at reduced prices, too - because people are moving away, not in.  Power lines can be a factor and highways also. These are issues that can permanently depress prices, so a bargain home might not be a bargain at all. On a more personal level, buyers need to think about location in terms of their own lives. Saving several thousand dollars on the purchase price of a home is small comfort if they have to drive an additional 60 minutes to work each day. An over-supply of lender-owned or rental homes in the neighborhood may be the one factor that is depressing prices only for the short-term. Their presence will devalue a home, but only until they're sold. So buyers who are in it for the long haul might do well to consider buying in a location such as that - provided that other factors make the home a good choice. The neighborhood is an issue. But it definitely does affect the value of homes. Even if you get a home for 25% of it's value in another location, you should avoid it if all around you are run-down houses, yards filled with trash, and people coming and going that make you uneasy. Owning a home in a neighborhood where you're afraid to go for a walk in the evening is not a wise choice, no matter how low the price. On a more personal level, and beyond the safety/fear factor, neighborhood make-up will affect your happiness in that home. If you're a young mom with small children, you will probably be happiest in a neighborhood with at least a few other young moms with kids. If you're a senior citizen, you might not enjoy a neighborhood filled with noisy children and teens - but on the other hand you might prefer it. The age and condition of the homes is also a factor to consider. Old homes can be charming, but only if they've been maintained. So take a careful look. Is the whole neighborhood on a decline, or are some residents working at fix-up? An old neighborhood on the upswing could be a very good investment. If others are making improvements and the home you find needs work, are you qualified and able to do that work? If you have to hire it all done, the house may not be a bargain at all. The bottom line - don't choose based on price alone. Make sure you're going to be happy with the location, and that you're buying in an area where prices can be expected to appreciate. In most markets the housing market still favors the buyer, but economic signs point to housing slowly emerging from its doldrums and in many areas, buyers can no longer count on the rock-bottom deals of the past two years.  It is simple a sign of reaching the bottom of the market and now is a prime opportunity in the home market. Finding The Right Neighborhood How will you know you have found the right neighborhood? There are many ways to tell: You may feel a sense of calm The neighborhood may remind you of a happy memory You will be close to places you frequent often The neighborhood aesthetics are pleasing, or The rest of your family is pleased You may have friends and acquaintances that live nearby You may feel one emotion or five when you turn the corner onto the street where you want to live. This will be an exciting time, especially if you have been searching for a home for the past few months. When looking for the right location, you should consider the following: How clean is this neighborhood? Is this a high crime area? What is the average home value in the neighborhood? Are there community HOA bylaws? What is the home close to? Is there garbage pickup? and Utilities? Internet and communication facilities While these questions may not include everything you are looking for when buying a home, they should be considered carefully as they will affect your life once you move into the home.  Start by driving the neighborhood,  Stop and talk to the residents, if possible and observe.  Drive it in the morning and then in the afternoon and evening.  Walk about and listen to the sounds and observe.  That will give you honest evaluation for the following key requirements: How Clean Is This Neighborhood? You should look at the neighborhood at different times during the day to see how those who live in the neighborhood take care of it. If there is a lot of trash on the ground, the yards are not kept up properly, or there are old signs posted on trees and telephone poles, then the neighborhood may not be for you. If the neighborhood looks clean and you see people outside caring for their lawns, then you may have found a community of people who care about where they live. This is an important factor if you are planning on living in the neighborhood for many years. All too often people will buy homes only to discover that they live in a neighborhood where people do not have respect for their property or the property of others. This can make selling the home much more difficult in the future. Is This A High Crime Area? While all neighborhoods will experience some crime, you should consider buying a home in an area that has a high crime rate very carefully. While the home itself may be the right price for your budget, it may not be located in an area that is right for your well-being. Drive by the neighborhood at nighttime to see if there is adequate street lighting, suspicious activity, or anything else that might cause you to use caution. Research the neighborhood and find out how the crime rate compares to other neighborhoods. If the crime rate is too high, then it may be best to look somewhere else.  The internet offers free and paid sites to explore this information. Most association rules are well-intended,  you don't want neighbors parking an RV in the driveway or painting their home bright purple.  Most all property comes with restrictions or rules of use.  It can be one of the best ways to assure property appreciation in a well cared for and thought out neighborhood. But not everyone finds the rules reasonable, and disputes have arisen over CCRs that ban exterior Christmas lights or allow only white lights. Even flags , seasonal or official can raise issues.  Some associations enforce pet-weight restrictions so zealously that they put dogs on the scale. Another contentious issue is association amendments that ban home and condo owners from renting out their dwellings. For strapped owners, leasing to tenants could mean the difference between foreclosure and keeping the property. If you plan on renting your property in the future then it becomes import to know the guidelines and rules regarding your home. These are just things to watch for and be aware to catch them, then determine if it is important to you and your lifestyle. There are other things regarding HOA's and lenders that will be covered in the financing chapter. What Is The Home Close To? When choosing a home, you will need to find the nearest shopping, grocery store, schools, route to work, and other necessities that will make living in the neighborhood more convenient. Drive around the neighborhood to see what is around it. This will help make your decision to buy a home in a particular neighborhood much easier. Is There Garbage Pickup? While this may not seem like something you are interested in, when it comes to disposing of your trash, you may need to haul it to the dump yourself. Ask about trash pickup so that you can decide if this is something you really want to do on the weekend. This is really about knowing what services are provided by whom: Water and sewer Trash and Leaf and curbside trash pickup Gas and Electric utility (Private, City Town or Coop) Is sewer septic, is water private well, is the heating oil needed?
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