By Michael Quirk, communications coordinator for Ameris Bank
If you are in the market for purchasing a home, chances are you will attend quite a few open houses. The housing market is as hot as ever as listings seem to disappear as quickly as they arrive, leaving home buyers feeling the need to have multiple options. As you step into an open house, here are some ideas to keep in mind.
Factor in Distances to Important Landmarks
The distance from your home to your office has long been a staple consideration during home buying. As many companies have increased their remote work possibilities, this has become less of a factor to some. Still, there are other landmark distances for you to consider when purchasing your next home. Factoring in the distance to your gym, your child’s school or daycare, your friends and family, the airport or any other place you tend to visit regularly should be on your mind. Location is a key decision-driver for many home buyers, and thinking about it ahead of time can save you considerable headaches rather than dealing with the tedious travel time after the fact.
Think About How It Fits Your Day-to-Day
It is easy to step into a house and fall in love with the idea of where your holiday decorations will go, what you can do with the garden and other long-term ideas. It is even more important to consider how the house and neighborhood fit your day-to-day life. Does it have a garage if you need one? Is it on a busy or noisy street that might not be enjoyable when you’re relaxing in the yard? Do you prefer to have a sidewalk to walk your dog? Will it be difficult turning on and off your street? Thinking of your average Tuesday in the home may not be as romantic as envisioning a marquee occasion in the future, but it is vitally important.
Ensure the Housing Situation is a Fit for the Long Run
On a similar note, you should consider how the home and neighborhood will work for you in the future. If you have a child or are planning to start or grow your family, are there enough bedrooms and maybe a dedicated playroom? Are you working remotely now and need a home office? By the same token, if you either have a dog or are thinking about adopting one in the future, is there a yard or nearby park where your furry friend can let out some energy?
Be Clear About HOA Coverage and Reserve Funds
Make sure to ask your real estate agent about what is covered by the homeowners association (HOA) fees. This is particularly crucial if you are purchasing a condo or townhome. Some communities cover certain repairs, but not everything—so make sure you know the extent to which your monthly fees go. Ask about how fees cover landscaping, amenities such as a pool and covered parking. One extenuating circumstance to ask about is the reserve funds kept by the HOA. If your potential HOA is financially responsible, they will have a well of reserve funds that can be used for repairs or needed improvements in the neighborhood. If the reserve funds are low and a major repair is needed, you could find yourself in danger of an assessment, meaning every resident pays toward the cost of the repair, which could set you back a significant amount of money.
Weigh Repairs and Cosmetic Changes
When touring the home, does it appear to need significant repairs such as a new roof, water damage or an old HVAC unit? If so, those are things to strongly consider, especially if you are getting close to your maximum budget. When weighing the repairs and changes you would want to make, assess what the house needs to be livable (like a functioning HVAC) and what cosmetic changes are needed to suit your taste. Removing carpet, painting walls or replacing outdated countertops and fixtures are changes you can make over time, so focus on the cost of those significant needs.
The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual. Ameris Bank does not endorse nor is affiliated with the companies listed in this article.
For more information, visit amerisbank.com.