Secrets of Savvy Househunters
Experienced home buyers know that there’s more to look for than a good neighbourhood and a sturdy foundation. They shop with their hearts, their heads – and with the expert advice of a real estate professional. Before you get caught up in the excitement of searching for the perfect home, here are some savvy steps to follow.
1. Know how much you want to spend
Don’t get caught in that trap of finding a perfect home that you can’t afford. Do your homework and define your budget. Get a pre-approved mortgage or consulting with your lender of choice, and keep your eye on the market, since any changes could impact what you can afford.
2. Scope out the neighbourhoods
Before you start looking at individual homes, figure out which neighbourhoods you would prefer to live in. How close are schools? Stores? Be aware, that some areas North and South of Powell River do not have high speed internet. These all have an impact. Also, check common areas in a community like parks and playgrounds – they can say a lot about how the residents feel about their neighbourhood, so look for tell-tale signs of neglect or proud upkeep. Having been born and raised here, and raised my family here - I can tell you all about the hidden beaches, trails and wonderful parts of our town.
3. Make a list
Smart shoppers never head to the grocery store without a list and neither should you when you head out to an open house. Organize your thoughts on paper and come up with a master house wish list that you can refer to. Divide it up into must-haves, would-be-nice items and deal breakers. Carry this list with you so that you can compare homes on the basis of your personal wants and needs.
4. Find a home inspector
Even before you locate your ideal home, have a home inspector at the ready. He or she may even be able to offer you some pointers for things to look out for when you first see a place.
5. Take your time
In Powell River, it is possible to view 6 homes in one day, providing you aren't going from Lund to Saltery Bay, but any more can be more confusing than convenient. Take photos and make note of the pros and cons after viewing each property so you can take a look at the next home without struggling to remember details about the one before.
Be sure to ask about mutual driveways, parking, zoning bylaws and upcoming construction. In the Powell River Regional Area there are currently no building permits required, and no enforced zoning, this can be both a good and bad thing. In general rural areas are either serviced by small community water systems or private wells, and all (with the exception of Lund), have septic systems.
7. Be a legal eagle
Ask for a survey of the property and take a good look at it. Fences may not be on actual property lines and right-of-way issues may come into play in the future with the sale of the home next door. Don’t just rely on your judgement; hire a lawyer to inspect all of the paperwork related to a prospective purchase and to advise you.
8. Get a second opinion
If you’ve found a home that really appeals to you, show it to someone else like a good friend or relative. Having someone who isn’t personally vested in the property can give you the objective opinion you need before you make your decision.
9. Think it through
In a hot market, it can be hard not to make an immediate offer. While that may work in most cases, be sure to step back, pull out your list and carefully gauge if this property meets all of your must-have criteria. Savvy househunters say that when you find the right property, you can feel it down to your bones. If that’s the case for you, see if you can wait a day (or a few hours) before making an offer. The only thing worse than buyer’s remorse is letting a dream home get away.