How to decide which home to buy
One of the biggest challenges of the home buying process is deciding exactly which home you want to buy.
In an established location with older housing, properties can vary massively, introducing variables into your search that can be difficult to weigh up.
Follow these tips to streamline your buying process and make the all-important decision of which home to buy, a little easier.
Decide on your non-negotiables before you start looking
What are the 2 or 3 features your new home absolutely must have? It might be an extra bedroom, second toilet, internal access garaging, or a garden area where you can grow your own food. Focus on why you are moving in the first place and decide on these key aspects before you start looking. That way you can avoid falling in love with 'nice to haves' which might come at the expense of features you really need.
Have a shortlist and keep it short
Active buyers can easily view 10 open homes in one day. Considering that many properties simultaneously can quickly result in a case of paralysis by analysis if you're not careful.
Here's a process to keep things simple: Decide on your three favourite houses. It's easier to pick three favourites than it is to pick one winner.
Each time you see a new home, compare it to your top three houses and remove the one you like the least. Always keep your shortlist at 3 homes max and forget about the rest.
Take another look
Often, it's the second look that tells us the most about a property. Once you have decided on your shortlist, book a second viewing at each home. Take a thorough look around, exploring every part. Open and close doors, look inside cupboards, work out which rooms get the most sun. Are there any overdue maintenance items that will require attention soon?
Test out the commute. Make the drive from your shortlisted home to your place of work during rush hour so you can see how long it takes. Try the local school run, too. You could also explore the area late at night to make sure you'll feel comfortable and safe living there.
Remove the home you like the least
When you feel ready to make an offer, it can be challenging to try and choose the best option. Especially if each home has redeeming factors and challenges. Instead of trying to pick your favourite, start by removing one option from your shortlist. Pick the house you like the least and take it off your list. Now you are down to 2.
Where do you see yourself living?
Now it's time to step back, go for a walk and determine which house to offer on first. When you picture your future life, which home are you living in? Which one feels 'right'? Which home would you be most upset to learn had been sold to another buyer? Once you have narrowed your search down to 2 properties, trust your gut instinct. Pick your favourite and have a go, before someone else makes a move!
But what about pricing? Shouldn't we buy the cheapest one?
Presuming every house on your shortlist is in your budget, focus on deciding which home best suits your needs, rather than which one will be the best deal. You could be living in this home for many years, so why sacrifice your enjoyment or any of your must-haves just because another option might be a little bit cheaper?
In saying that, if there is one home on your shortlist that beats all the others, but is potentially a bit above your price range, then offer on that one first. You'll either get your offer accepted, or miss out and (hopefully) have your next favourite home to fall back on, knowing that at least you gave it a try!
By Jason Penny