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The Real Estate Corner
What's the most important feature when buying a home?
Wednesday, March 17, 2010 • Posted March 16, 2010

By Waymond Lightfoot

Do you know the most important item a homebuyer must consider when looking for a home? You should.

If you're purchasing a house, the most important item is the one that tops your priority list. For many people, that may be a price range or neighborhood or number of bedrooms – perhaps some combination of the three.

Someone else may list a backyard that can accommodate a few dozen turtles and a rabbit hutch as their number-one must-have feature before they will consider any other criteria. The point is, you must decide what aspects of a home are most important to you.

Once you prioritize your requirements, you can determine if that one-car garage is a deal-killer for an otherwise perfect home.

Pay attention to the not-so-little things

You have a lot to consider when buying a home.

Not only must you find a property you like, but you must deal with financing, negotiations, inspections, an appraisal, title insurance, a survey – the list is lengthy.

With so much information competing for your attention, you might easily overlook details of a home that could significantly affect your future enjoyment of it. Here are a few to keep in mind:

Schools: According to the 2009 Profile of Homebuyers by the National Association of Realtors, quality of school district was a factor for 33% of all homebuyers.

That number goes up to almost 40% for married couples and people who bought in a suburban neighborhood.

Traffic: If you want to live in a quiet neighborhood where you can work from home in peace, walk the dog, or ride bikes with your kids, you may not want to live on a street with heavy traffic patterns.

Sometimes, a road can be fairly quiet during most of the day, only to fill with cars during commute times. The best way to know for sure is to visit the property at different times of day and on weekdays and weekends.

Landscaping: Is gardening your thing? If so, make sure to consider that when viewing properties. If you prefer to limit your time maintaining a yard, consider what will be required to keep the current landscape healthy or to replace it with lower-maintenance options.

Future growth: Any new roads or developments in the area can change your living experience significantly.

Better to find out before you buy a home if the plans for the neighborhood fit in to your view of how you want to live.

Ability to expand: If you're buying with the thought of adding a second-story to the house sometime in the future, building a home office in the back yard, or installing an in-ground pool, find out if the property itself can accommodate what you have in mind and that zoning or homeowners-association rules don't prohibit your plans, either.

Don't go overboard

While you want to ponder these types of factors, you can also take the process too far. If you overanalyze every last detail and try to satisfy every conceivable item that comes to mind, you'll never buy a home.

Again, that's where listing your priorities serves you well. If the lowest item on your housing wish list is the desire to possibly build a pool 10 or 12 years down the road, perhaps you shouldn't strike an otherwise good property from your list of consideration.

Also, bear in mind that no property, not even a new home , will be perfect.

A qualified home inspector will likely find any major defects, giving you time to make an informed decision about whether to continue with the purchase, renegotiate the deal, or terminate the contract.

But the home you buy may also contain a few quirks, some that you uncover before you purchase it, others that may become evident only after you move in.

Maybe the dishwasher makes a strange noise or the bathroom door opens in a way that bumps the mirror.

Have realistic expectations so minor problems won't get in the way of you enjoying your new home.

Your Texas Realtor can help you find properties that meet your requirements and discuss the pros and cons of each one. With your priorities clearly defined, you are sure to end up in a home that makes you happy.

For more consumer-friendly information and tips about real estate in the Lone Star State, I encourage you to visit TexasRealEstate.com.

For your real estate needs, please contact RE/MAX Genesis at 830-833-2000.

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