If there is one thing I cannot stress enough to people shopping for a home, ESPECIALLY your first home, is to make sure you absolutely LOVE the location. Seems simple doesn't it?
Surprisingly enough, when you get that letter from your lender saying your pre-approved, common sense seems to fly out the window. Not with everyone, but more than you would think.
Here is WHY location should be number 1 on your NEED list.
1. Average lifespan a homeowner spends in their new home is 3-5 years. RESALE! RESALE! RESALE! you want to make money right? Don't buy a house in an area that is cheaper than the rest (there is a reason why those values haven't skyrocketed)
2. Schools. HUGE factor when buying or selling a home. Even if your newly married, kids are planned way down the road, that does not mean you should dismiss the school district you buy into. What if little Johnny came sooner than expected and you really love your house, but your schools systems are crap? Now you have to think about moving because we all want the best education for our kids right?
3. Time to sell? The number one site that people go on is www.greatschools.org/ If your house is not in an area that has good ratings, it doesn't matter how many improvements you made, value won't rise as fast, and it will probably sit for awhile. Unless you give it away, and nobody wants to lose money.
What should you do when your house "shopping"?
1. Before you decided to spend an entire day walking through every house that fits your budget, drive to each house you like. Ask yourself these questions as you are driving around and scoping out the neighborhood.
~ What is around my 2 mile radius? Am I close to shopping? Dining? Schools?
~ How is my commute to work? Make sure you are driving there during your normal times you would be getting home. Go there when people are home from work. Activity around your potential surrounding new home can tell a lot, of where you will be spending the next few years.
~ What is surrounding your potential new street? Are there a lot of rentals? Multi-Family? Those can potentially hurt the resale of your home. See how the yards are taken care of. You may have a beautiful landscaped front yard, but if your neighbors have trash in theirs, potential buyers can be turned off before giving yours a chance.
~ Don't be scared to ask your Realtor to pull the neighborhood sales over the last year that can give you a good idea on values.
~ Check out the school district, if it has bad ratings, chances are you should just keep driving.
If all of the above meet or exceed your expectations, call your Realtor, schedule a showing and get ready to move!