What advice would you give to help me decide between my two favorite houses?

You can make such a tough decision easier by going back to your starting point. Ask yourself these questions:

  • Review your priorities Do both properties meet your stated housing needs?
  • Seek new information What else should you know about the house, the neighborhood, local schools, transportation, and community facilities?
  • Get out the crystal ball How long do you expect to stay in your next home, and how will each house fit your expected needs and lifestyle over that time period?
  • Compare the added features for each home Are there benefits that outweigh any shortfalls in your priority list?
  • Keep resale in mind If you intend to move in five or 10 years, which home will probably be easier to resell?
  • Analyze the costs of both homes How does the price of each compare, and how do the long-term costs such as heat, local taxes and fees, transportation and other day-to-day living expenses stack up?

Is there more you would like to know about that final home-buying decision? Simply click on “Ask Your Own Questions” or contact us for answers specific to your situation.

Beyond the house itself, what should I look for in the property?

Once you’ve found the right home, take a good look at the land it’s built on before you buy. Check for:

  • Easements Whose are they and where are they located? Will you be able to build a garage, shed, fence or other improvements while avoiding the easement areas?
  • Flood plain Is part of the lot marked for flooding areas? How often and for how long is the area under water? Has the house ever been flooded or threatened by high water?
  • Boundaries Where are the true lot lines? Is the fence properly placed within the lot? Will there be room to build a deck or addition to the house later on?
  • Utility cables Where are they located? Will it be possible to add phone lines or upgrade electrical capacity later?
  • Hydrant How close is the nearest fire hydrant? This, and the proximity of the fire station, are often important when purchasing homeowner's insurance.

You may have to do a little research to answer some of these questions, and may want to make any contract contingent upon your being satisfied with the results.

How can I be certain I’m getting what I think I’m paying for?

When you have found the house you are ready to buy, you might assume you will get everything you see, besides the family’s furnishings. That is not always the case. Even if the multiple listing profile lists certain items that are to convey with the house – lawn furniture, window shades, a special chandelier, washer and dryer – those items might not remain behind.

How can you be certain you are getting what you think you are paying for? Here are some tips:

  • Make a list List everything in the purchase contract, a legally binding document that defines the terms of the sale. When offering a price for the house, state exactly what you expect to convey with the house.
  • Keep all negotiations on the same form Even if it gets messy, do not retype the original contract, because some provisions could get left out.
  • Be prepared to negotiate You can also list items not specifically indicated by the seller, such as living room drapes, that you want to convey with the house, and negotiate for the value of the added items.

As real estate professionals, we can help you understand every step of the home-buying process. Call or e-mail us, or click on “Ask Your Own Questions.”

Are there guidelines to how much a buyer should offer?

Now you’ve found the house you want, how much should you offer to pay for it? This can be a tricky puzzle, because there are no carved-in-stone guidelines. Some homes are overpriced, while others are a “real steal” at the full asking price. Here are some tips:

  • Ask your agent for comparables To determine a fair purchase offer, ask your agent to prepare a written comparative market analysis showing the sales prices of similar neighborhood homes that sold recently and the asking prices of comparable homes currently on the market.
  • Compare the details To calculate your best offer, compare the features of the home that interests you with the features of similar homes that have sold recently in the same neighborhood.