Love Live DC: Thinking About Buying in 2018? Here’s Where to Start

This column is written and sponsored by D.C. real estate agent and Edgewood resident Jessica Evans. Email her questions at  [email protected].

Whether you are planning to buy a house in 2018 or 5 years from now, it’s never too early to start planning. I’m sure that I sound like a broken record when I say that buying any kind of real estate is one of the biggest financial investments you will ever make, and that careful planning and preparation will help to ensure that your investment fits your objectives.

Knowing where to start when you are thinking about buying a home can be more than a little overwhelming, but let’s take it one step at a time. Like many aspects of buying a home, I can’t promise that it will be fun, but I can promise that it will be worthwhile.

Over the next few weeks I’ll be sharing with you my recommendations on each step of the home buying process, from planning and figuring out how you will pay for the house to the actual search.

Step 1: Define your objectives

I know that those email alerts that you get from Zillow or Redfin are super tempting, but I would caution that until you have a clear outline of your objectives it’s really easy to get off track and distracted before you ever even begin your search (If you’ve already done this, thats OK too, we can always work backwards if you’ve gotten ahead of yourself).

It’s completely natural to be excited and want to jump right into a home search, but I can’t caution strongly enough that in order to have a successful experience and outcome, planning is needed. (note: for the purposes of this post, and all of my posts, a house or home is not defined by a specific type of physical structure, whether its a condo, tiny house, McMansion or anything in-between).

The number one mistake that I see buyers make is getting ahead of themselves, finding a home that they think they want to buy before they have clearly defined their objectives. I definitely understand that the charm and character are irresistible, or the location is amazing, and that you will feel like you have found a once in a lifetime opportunity.

For most people, every real estate purchase is in a way a once in a lifetime opportunity. It’s an opportunity to make an investment that can either serve you well and position you for financial gains or can be one where you end up with regrets. There is no perfect house and no perfect way to go about the home buying process, but from my perspective, those who plan ahead and those who do not, have very different experiences and outcomes. I’ll admit that by nature, I’m not a planner. For those for which this type of thing comes naturally, this step may seem intuitive and like I’m stating the obvious.

Whether or not this sounds like you, you too can and should create an outline of your goals and it’s way easier than you may think. There are no right or wrong goals and creating an outline of your objectives is really as easy as writing down your answers and reflecting on this as you proceed through your journey to homeownership.

Things to Consider (Questions you should answer — if you don’t have an answer, that’s OK, just write down your thoughts on the subject).

  1. Who are the decision makers in this home purchase?
    1. If the answer is anyone other than yourself, these are questions that you need to discuss and answer together. Or, even better, each of you can separately answer the questions and then discuss your answers.
    2. If you plan to receive financial assistance for your home purchase, you should discuss their involvement in your home purchase in advance (they may be a decision maker).
  2. Why do you want to buy a house?
  3. What are your primary objectives with your home purchase?
    1. Financial objectives
    2. Lifestyle objectives
    3. How do you see this purchase potentially positively or negatively impacting your life?
  4. How long do you plan to own/live in this home?
    1. List any possibilities for why you may want/need to move sooner
    2. Can you commit to owning this home for at least 3-5 years?
  5. What is your level of interest in home improvement projects?
    1. If any, how much time do you have for either managing or taking on projects?
    2. Do you have any experience or skills that would be applicable? (let’s exclude watching HGTV for the purposes of this outline)
    3. Outside of improvements, how many hours a month do you plan to spend on home maintenance?
  6. What benefits do you think will come from a home purchase? What drawbacks?

Want a little more help with this step of the process? Let’s Talk! I’d be happy to set up a phone call or meeting, with no obligation or commitment, to discuss your home purchase objectives.

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