What Homebuyers Should Look For Image

What Homebuyers Should Look For

Posted on April 17, 2014

As the school year draws to an end, many families may be preparing to purchase a new home. Whether it’s closer to work, closer to family or in a completely new city, a new home is a big decision and purchase. If you’ve ever had buyer’s remorse, big or small, you know that you can never be too careful when making any financial decisions. To assist in your search for a new home, here’s a list of a few things you may overlook when house hunting.

Location
There’s more to location than being close to work. When browsing for a new home, ask yourself these questions:

  • Do you visit family often? Will this home’s location make it harder to do so? Not every city is tightly compacted. You can drive for 40 minutes in San Antonio without ever leaving the city limits.
  • What are the school districts like? (Even if you don’t have or plan on having children, school districts can be a reflection of the surrounding communities. Quality public education can save you the money of paying for charter or private education.)
  • Is this home near a grocery store, your doctor’s office/veterinarian/pharmacist? If you’ve found a physician you trust, you may end up making a long drive to see them.
  • Is there a lot of construction in the area? Living near construction, quarries and other sites where digging is done can cause foundation damage to nearby homes.
  • Is this home close to your favorite restaurants, movie theaters and shopping? A new location could mean developing a new lifestyle or making long treks to maintain an old one.
  • Is public transportation nearby? For commuters, this can be very important. Money saved on gas quickly adds up.

South-Facing Windows
Which direction are the windows in the home facing? With south-facing windows, your new home is set up properly to receive passive solar energy. In the winter, sunlight can enter your home and raise the internal temperature. In the summer, sensible, energy-efficient window coverings will keep it out. Passive solar energy is a great way to keep your home warm for less and without overworking your furnace.

While you’re checking out the windows, see if they are energy-efficient, properly sealed and easily opened and closed. High-quality windows are a great way to cut back on energy costs. If the windows of the home you’re looking at are past their prime, make sure you have enough in your budget for replacement windows.

Appliance Health
Unless you plan on bringing your own appliances, before you buy a home, make sure you know the age of the included dishwasher, washer and dryer, oven and more! Homes with old appliances may have a lower selling price to reel you in. If you aren’t ready to make major appliance purchases months or years down the road, it may be a sign to look elsewhere. Here are the average lifespans of kitchen and other household appliances:

  • Refrigerator (13 years)
  • Gas Range (15 years)
  • Electric Range (13 years)
  • Dishwasher (9 years)
  • Washing Machine (11-12 years)
  • Dryer (11-12 years)
  • Electric/Gas Water Heater (10 years)
  • Tankless Water Heater (20 years)

Bonus: Life Expectancy of an HVAC System

  • High-efficiency Heat Pump (16 years)
  • High-efficiency Air Conditioner (15- 25 years)
  • Standard Air Conditioner (10-15 years)
  • Furnace (15-20 years)

Don’t Overestimate Your Renovation Skills
Updating an older home is hard work. If you don’t have the money to hire professionals, your new home could be under construction for years to come. It’s a lot easier to rip up carpet than it is to re-plumb a home. Cosmetic adjustments are much easier to tackle than structural ones. Know your strengths when taking on a home that needs some TLC. Not everyone is meant to star on HGTV. If you are interested in renovating an older home, make sure you hire a highly rated home inspector. The last things you need when budgeting renovation costs are unwelcome and costly surprises.

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