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  • Writer's pictureAngie Seaton

Smart Home Buying: 5 Things to Consider When Buying Your Next Home

When it comes to buying a new home, making informed decisions is paramount. This process, while exciting, can also be laden with complexities that can overwhelm even the most experienced buyers. To navigate this landscape effectively, we've broken down the essence of smart home buying into five essential tips. These guidelines are designed to empower you, ensuring that your investment is sound and your future in your new home is bright.


1.    Budget beyond the price tag

When embarking on the journey to purchase a new home, the sticker price is just the tip of the iceberg in terms of overall costs. It's imperative to look beyond the initial price and prepare for the various expenses that homeownership entails. Understanding and planning for these costs upfront will ensure you're not caught off guard and can truly afford the home you set your heart on.


Closing Costs: These are the fees and expenses you pay to finalize your mortgage and can include origination fees, title insurance, appraisal fees, and more. Closing costs typically range from 2% to 5% of the home's purchase price, so it's essential to save for these in addition to your down payment.


Yellow sticky note on stack of money

Property Taxes: Depending on where your new home is located, property taxes can significantly impact your monthly budget. These taxes fund local services and are based on the assessed value of your home. Be sure to research the property tax rate in your prospective area and factor this into your ongoing expenses.


Homeowners Insurance: Protecting your investment with homeowners insurance is non-negotiable. This insurance covers your home and possessions in the event of damage or theft and can also provide liability coverage. Costs vary based on location, home value, and coverage level, so it's crucial to shop around for the best policy for your needs.


Maintenance and Repairs: Owning a home means you're responsible for all maintenance and repairs, unlike renting, where these costs are typically the landlord's responsibility. Setting aside funds for regular upkeep, such as lawn care, and unexpected repairs, like a broken appliance, will help keep your home in top condition without straining your finances.


Utilities and HOA Fees: Lastly, consider the cost of utilities (water, gas, electricity, internet) and any homeowner association (HOA) fees if your property is in a managed community. These monthly expenses can add up and should be accounted for in your budget.


By taking a comprehensive look at the costs associated with homeownership, you can develop a realistic budget that covers the purchase price and the ongoing expenses of owning a home. This proactive approach not only helps in selecting a home you can comfortably afford but also in managing your finances effectively as a homeowner.


2.    Location, Location, Location

When it comes to real estate, the value of location cannot be overstated. It's about more than just the house itself; it's about the quality of life it offers and its potential for appreciation. Whether you're drawn to the tranquility of rural areas, the charm of small towns, the convenience of suburban living, or the vibrant energy of big cities, each setting offers unique benefits and challenges.

Cell phone, map and red location pins


Rural areas offer expansive landscapes, privacy, and a connection to nature. Ideal for those looking to escape the hustle and bustle of city life. However, consider potential challenges such as access to amenities, longer commutes, and internet connectivity.


Small towns typically provide a tight-knit community feel, lower cost of living, and less traffic. Small towns can be perfect for raising a family or enjoying a slower pace of life. Keep in mind the variety of local amenities and employment opportunities.


Suburbs strike a balance between the spaciousness of rural areas and the amenities of urban centers. They often offer good schools, more housing options, and family-friendly environments. Evaluate the suburban growth trends, as they can impact future property values and lifestyle.


Big cities thrive on diversity, cultural experiences, and economic opportunities. Living in a city center puts you in the heart of the action, with easy access to restaurants, entertainment, and public transportation. However, be prepared for higher living costs, noise, and smaller living spaces.


In choosing your ideal location, consider your current lifestyle and future needs. Think about your daily routines, social life, career goals, and family plans. Each location type has its merits, and understanding what aligns with your personal and professional life will help you make a well-informed decision. Additionally, it's crucial to research local schools, crime rates, future development plans, and commute times to ensure your new home meets all your needs.


Ultimately, the right location for you balances your desires for community, convenience, and quality of life with your financial goals and prospects for your investment's growth. By carefully considering these factors, you can find a place that not only feels like home but is also a wise long-term investment.


3.    Future-proof Your Purchase

Ensuring your new home can accommodate not just your present needs but also your future ones is crucial. Future-proofing your purchase means looking beyond the immediate appeal and considering how your life, technology, and the environment might change over time. Here are some key factors to consider:


Space and Layout: As your family grows or changes, so will your space requirements. Opt for a home with versatile rooms that can transition from a home office to a nursery, or a guest room to a study area. Open floor plans can adapt to various living situations, and additional storage spaces can help manage clutter through different life stages.


Energy Efficiency and Sustainability: With rising energy costs and growing environmental concerns, energy-efficient homes are not just good for the planet—they’re good for your wallet too. Look for homes with energy-saving features like double-glazed windows, well-insulated walls, solar panels, or smart home technology that can adapt to future innovations in energy efficiency.


Accessibility: A home that you can live in comfortably as you age is a wise investment. Features like single-story living, step-free entrances, and wide doorways can accommodate mobility issues and make aging in place easier.


Resale Value: Even if you’re not thinking about selling anytime soon, it’s important to consider the potential resale value of your home. Factors like the home’s location, the quality of local schools, and the overall condition of the property can influence its attractiveness to future buyers. Keeping an eye on market trends and investing in timely upgrades can enhance your home’s long-term value.


Community and Amenities: A supportive and thriving community can greatly impact your satisfaction with a home over time. Look into future development plans for the area, potential changes in infrastructure, and the stability of local amenities. A location that is set to grow in value and livability can ensure your home continues to meet your needs and preferences in the long run.


water park area in a brick home community

By considering these aspects, you’re not just buying a house for today but investing in a home that will serve you well into the future. This forward-thinking approach can save you from future discomforts, unnecessary costs, and the hassle of moving again prematurely.


4.    Inspection: Your Best Defense

A comprehensive home inspection is an indispensable part of the home-buying process, serving as your first line of defense against potential unforeseen issues. It gives you an in-depth look at the property's condition, identifying any repairs or maintenance that might be needed before you commit to your purchase. Here’s why prioritizing a thorough inspection is crucial:


Uncover Hidden Problems: An experienced home inspector can reveal critical issues that aren't visible to the untrained eye, such as structural damage, roofing problems, electrical faults, plumbing issues, and HVAC system malfunctions. Identifying these problems early can save you from costly surprises down the road.

man and woman looking at falling ceiling insulation


Negotiation Leverage: The findings from a home inspection can provide you with powerful leverage in negotiations. You can request that the seller make repairs, reduce the sale price, or offer credits toward closing costs based on the inspector's report. This can lead to significant savings and ensure that you're getting fair value for your investment.


Future Maintenance Planning: Beyond immediate repairs, an inspection report can serve as a roadmap for future maintenance. Understanding the condition of the home's systems and components helps you plan for upcoming expenses, allowing you to budget accordingly and maintain the property's value.


Safety and Peace of Mind: Safety issues, such as radon, mold, lead-based paint, and asbestos, can pose serious health risks. An inspection can detect these hazards, ensuring the safety of your living environment. Knowing that your future home is safe and sound provides peace of mind, making it easier to transition into your new space with confidence.


Opt-Out Opportunity: Should the inspection uncover significant defects that are deal-breakers for you, most purchase agreements include contingencies that allow you to back out of the sale without penalty. This safety net is invaluable, ensuring that you're not locked into a purchase that doesn't meet your standards.


Investing in a quality home inspection is investing in your future home's health and your own financial well-being. By revealing potential issues before they become your responsibility, an inspection empowers you to make informed decisions, negotiate better terms, and secure a home that you can enjoy and rely on for years to come.


5.    Negotiate with Knowledge

Entering negotiations with a solid foundation of knowledge can significantly impact the outcome of your home purchase. Well-informed buyers are empowered to negotiate terms that better suit their interests and budget. Here’s how you can leverage information to strengthen your negotiation position:


Understand the Market: Research the local real estate market to understand what is reasonable to expect in terms of pricing and concessions. Are you in a buyer's or seller's market? Knowing the current climate can guide your approach, whether it's being more aggressive in a buyer's market or understanding the need for speed and flexibility in a seller's market.


graphs and charts with a small wooden house and some keys

Leverage the Inspection Report: Use the findings from your home inspection as a bargaining tool. Request repairs, a lower price, or seller concessions to cover the costs of fixing significant issues uncovered during the inspection. Being specific about your requests and citing the inspection report lends credibility to your negotiations.


Know Your Limits: Before entering negotiations, clearly define your budget and your non-negotiables. This preparation prevents you from making impulsive decisions driven by emotion rather than logic. Having a clear understanding of your maximum offer and conditions will help you negotiate with confidence and purpose.


Highlight Your Strengths: If you come to the table with advantages like pre-approved financing or flexibility on the closing date, highlight these as part of your negotiations. Sellers might be willing to make concessions for a buyer who presents less hassle or a faster, more secure closing process.


Seek Professional Guidance: Enlist the help of a local real estate agent who knows the ins and outs of negotiating home purchases in your target area. Their expertise can be invaluable in crafting your offer, dealing with counteroffers, and ensuring your interests are well-represented throughout the negotiation process.


Be Ready to Walk Away: While it’s important to negotiate for what you want, it’s equally crucial to recognize when a deal isn’t in your best interest. If negotiations reach a point where the terms are not favorable or the home doesn’t meet your essential criteria, be prepared to walk away. There will be other properties that fit your needs and budget better.


Negotiating a home purchase with knowledge and preparedness can lead to significant savings and a contract that aligns with your best interests. Remember, every element of the deal is potentially negotiable, and your informed approach can make all the difference in securing your ideal home under the best possible terms.


In the process of purchasing a new home, being well-informed and prepared can significantly impact your experience and outcomes. Embracing the journey with a clear understanding of the financial responsibilities beyond the listing price, recognizing the importance of location in enhancing your lifestyle, and ensuring the home can evolve with your future needs are foundational steps. Additionally, leveraging the detailed insights from a thorough home inspection not only safeguards your investment but also empowers you in negotiations, ensuring you make decisions that are both informed and beneficial.


As you move forward, remember that the key to a successful home purchase lies in combining diligent research with strategic planning. The right home should align with your immediate needs and future aspirations, all while fitting within a well-considered budget. By approaching this significant milestone with a balanced blend of foresight, caution, and informed decision-making, you set the stage for not just a new house, but a home filled with potential, growth, and lasting happiness.


If you are in Central Missouri and are looking for your next real estate agent, I’d love to chat with you. 


Angela Seaton, Realtor



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