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Decide what to look for before starting your search! Make a list of your “must-haves” and “like-to-haves”. When you determine how much home you can afford, you next can consider what type of home and neighborhood best fits your needs.
Before you begin looking, if you start considering the differences between a single-family home, a condo and the other housing options that exist, you'll save a lot of time and frustration in your search.
New or used, you will typically have a yard, garage etc. Choosing between new or used will depend on various factors. How handy are you with a hammer? New homes generally cost a little more to purchase, are less negotiable on purchase price, but are less expensive to maintain and are more energy efficient.
This can be a great way to get the house you want in the neighborhood you want but beware! You will need to be handy with a hammer and have the ongoing reserves to fix the house up. Also, depending on what type of financing you are able to obtain, the house may not qualify even if you do.
New or used, a condominium generally faces the same issues as a new or used detached home. The difference with a condominium is that you own only the interior air space and ﬁxtures in your living space, plus a certain percentage of common areas and property. As a condominium owner, You will pay Association dues and will be governed by “Covenants, Conditions, and Restrictions” (CC&R’s). The advantages of a condo may include amenities such as a gym or swimming pool. Your Association dues may cover maintenance, insurance and replacement of things such as A/C’s and roofs.
A Planned Unit Development is basically a condominium but with some land attached. There will be Association dues and CC&R’s. Most PUD’s will not allow you to make modifications to the exterior of the home, or paint the exterior any color you choose. A PUD must conform to the surrounding neighborhood.
NEIGHBORHOODS: Choosing what part of town to live in is mainly based on your lifestyle. If you’re single and enjoy a very active lifestyle, living in a quiet, tree-lined neighborhood close to good schools may not be too important to you. On the other hand, if you have three small children, living in a singles’ condo complex might be a poor choice – or at least make you unpopular with your neighbors!
What part of town do you want to live in? Get to know the neighborhoods you are interested in. Drive around and get a feel for what it would be like to live in the area. Start getting a sense of the homes available in those neighborhoods. Sit down with your real estate agent and make a wants and needs list. Knowing your price range, your agent can determine which neighborhoods or towns to start looking.
After you have narrowed your selection to a few houses it is important to visit them at different times of the day. Visit them during the morning commute time. If you visit only during the middle of the day, you might not notice if the street in front of the home is used as a minor thoroughfare or a shortcut. This is also a good time to find out how to emerge from the residential area into traffic on a thoroughfare, or how long it takes for freeway access. Go back after dark and walk around the block. You might notice that headlights from approaching traffic shines into the home or you may hear sounds from a nearby night club or park that you were not aware of.