Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Ensuring we Bought the Right Home

We found it no easy task trying to select the right home to buy. And I’ll openly admit that we didn’t make the right decision when we bought our first home. However, during that first home purchase mistake, we learned some valuable lessons.

We discovered some things with our first home about what to do to help us insure that we were buying the right home the next time around. And while there may not be any exact science to home buying, here are a few of the things we learned that helped us make the right decision this most recent time around when we once again decided to buy.

Comps, Comps, Comps, and More Comps
We didn’t limit ourselves to just what our real estate agent provided us in the way of comps. Sure, he gave us some area comparables to which we could gauge our property and that gave us a general idea of the value of the condos in our building and surrounding buildings. However, we’ve learned in our past experience not to take just one person’s word -- even if they are trained in the field of real estate -- when it comes to buying or selling a home.

Therefore, we pulled up information regarding comps online from sites such as Zillow.com, Trulia.com, and similar websites to get a better idea of what condos of similar size and location were selling for. We also walked the area surrounding our condo of interest to get a better feel for prices and price locations before making our offer.

Property Tax Research
In the Chicagoland area especially, knowing as much as we can about property tax rates before we buy, is a huge consideration in our opinion. With our previous home’s taxes over $5,000 a year -- in a not so hot area -- we wanted to make sure that we weren’t burned again when it came to how much we were taxed.

We were able to discover the past year’s tax rates and exemption history on the property in which we were interested by following a link on Zillow.com to our county assessor’s office site.

Multiple Viewings
We wanted to make sure that what we saw and felt during our first viewing of the property was what we saw and felt the next time. Therefore, we viewed our future home once, then saw it a second time, made the offer, saw another property, then came back and saw our property again, did the inspection (where we saw it a fourth time), then did the final walk through.

This means that we saw our condo five times before we officially took ownership of the property, giving ourselves ample opportunity to look for flaws, problem points, and get a true feel for the property before we fully committed ourselves.

Understanding our Location
We’ve made the mistake of not fully understanding the area of the home we purchased on our first home buying endeavor. From that mistake, we learned that it’s not just the home itself that makes a home, but the neighborhood as well.

From proximity and quality of schools, to locations of available commuter services, property tax rates, and available amenities and the proximity of those amenities to our home, we ensured that we did significant research on our area before buying.

We took time to get to know the area, spent time walking around, talked to people, and ate in the restaurants where we could people watch. We looked up the school district online, and as I previously mentioned, we researched our area comps and tax rates, as well as real estate market trends, and we ensured that we would have plenty to keep us occupied and entertained all within walking distance in this new living location before ever making the decision to buy.

1 comment:

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