Our Guide to Millennial Home Buying

Four things to consider in your search

Buying a house isn’t like buying a couch or a new lawn mower – there’s a long-term commitment required. Certainly more money is involved, and you’ll be living with your decisions for many years. Follow these simple tips to feel confident that you’re making good decisions each step of the way.

1. Consider the market, but don’t try to predict it.

We all hope that our home purchase ends up being a good investment. But the housing market has its ups and downs, which is why it’s nearly impossible to judge the optimal time to buy. If you wait, you may miss out on getting the home you want at an ideal price. If you buy a house now that you aren’t in love with—hoping that its rapid appreciation allows you to buy a better home later—you may be disappointed.

Market considerations are important, but remember there are no guarantees. The best time to buy a house is when it’s right for you. Buy when the purchase makes the most sense, when it fits your budget , and when you’ve found a house that fits your long-term needs.

2. Consider the neighborhood, the location, and the schools.

In real estate, location is always a primary consideration. The features of the neighborhood, its amenities, and proximity to shopping and work are all very important. And yet, one of the biggest considerations is the school district. This is true even if you don’t have children. The reputation of a school district impacts the value and appreciation of your home. If you plan to sell your house someday, most buyers will look closely at the schools in your area. Your home’s market price will be determined accordingly.

3. Determine how much work you can do in a fixer-upper.

Every homebuyer should realize that at some point they’re going to make compromises. It’s rare to stumble upon a perfect, move-in-ready home that’s also in your price range. One solution may be a fixer-upper, but beware of the unknowns. You’ll have to decide how much work there is to do, how much you’re willing to do yourself, and how much it will cost to do the rest.  Even something as simple as pulling up old carpet or repainting can be costly if you hire it out.

Accurately estimating these costs in advance will help you leave enough in your budget for necessary upgrades once you’ve moved in.

4. Before you buy, get an inspection.

Once you find a house and make an offer, you’re going to want to get an inspection. No matter how savvy a buyer you are, it’s nearly impossible to identify any and all potential issues a house may have after just a walkthrough or two. That’s why it’s essential to spend a little extra and get the home inspected. Not only can this help you uncover a potentially costly problem before it’s on your tab, but it can also help you negotiate the cost of any necessary repairs off of the sale price of the house.

An inspector will evaluate the integrity of the physical property—things like the foundation, siding, plumbing and electrical. It’s an important step in the process and one that can help ease your mind from worry.

Another consideration is asking the seller to pay for a home warranty policy. This protects you from major issues that weren’t uncovered in an inspection but come up during the first few months of your ownership.