Buying a home at any time is a tricky endeavor, but in 2020 it is more difficult than ever. The housing market has been holding on impressively through COVID-19, but that might change soon. The “right” price for a home is always up for debate, and now no one has an answer that lasts beyond a week or two.
While some future homeowners have put their purchase on hold until life is more stable, or are simply unable to afford it anymore, others are going ahead. The big questions about homeowning remain the same, and if you are still planning on buying, it is important you answer them first.
To help you get started, here are the most important questions you need to answer before buying a home.
What lifestyle do you want?
I’ve seen too many people start searching for a home before deciding what kind of lifestyle they want to be living. They say that they just want to be comfortable, and will be happy with any living space that serves that purpose. After receiving a long list of houses and apartments in a range of different areas, they are at a loss as to how to decide where to start.
The lifestyle question is so important because it sheds a light on so many things. A family who loves outdoorsy life will not do well in an apartment. They might not do well in a very busy area either, even if they do have a garden.
On the other hand, a young couple who want to go out every night might prefer an apartment in the city to a big house in a suburb.
Some people love spending time at home while others simply use their home as a place to rest their heads. This too will have an impact on the size of the home, the design, and so much more.
In other words, you should not start by asking what location you want to be in, or even about the size of a place. You need to know how you want to live. Once you have answered that question, many other answers will fall into place.
Do you need a realtor?
Realty is a controversial profession. It is a popular TV job for a reason. In theory, realtors can make a ton of money from a big sale. Movies and TV series therefore often cast them as slippery characters who just want to secure a sale, regardless of whether the home is right for the buyer.
In real life, this is not an accurate reflection of the entire industry. There are some very good realtors who will be able to provide information you would never get on your own. They can match you with your dream home at the ideal price. They will even help you to negotiate down.
Unfortunately, there is also a fair number of unscrupulous realtors. There is simply no getting away from the fact that the more money you spend, the more they earn. Getting you a bargain means that they are giving up on potential income. And so, they do what it takes to get you to buy, without letting you know all the reasons to be wary.
Deciding on whether you need a realtor will come down to a number of factors. If you are able to do a lot of research on your own and have connections to check things out, you might not need a realtor. On the other hand, if you are completely new to an area, you will need someone to guide you.
Ideally, you have a connection to a realtor you know you can trust. This is not always possible, and you should at the least do as much of your own research as you can. You won’t be able to find out as much as the realtor can, but you can check what they tell you against what you know independently.
How important is a bargain?
For most people on the market to buy a home, spending as little money as possible is really important. A house is a major financial commitment, one that might stay with you for decades. The less you spend, the better.
However, if you are in a particularly strong financial position, consider whether you really need a bargain. Choose a home that suits your lifestyle and aesthetics, even if it costs a little more. But also consider what is fair to the seller.
You don’t owe anything to someone selling a home. If you can get a great bargain because they are desperate, there is no reason to treat them like a charity case. However, that might not sit well with you. Often, we go after bargains because we don’t want to feel like we got a bad deal. But a deal can be fair even if you could have technically spent less.
What should you do about repairs and maintenance?
Something new homeowners tend to overlook is just how expensive it can be to own a house. It’s not just utilities you need to consider. Maintenance and repairs will cost you a significant amount of money each year. Some years will be much tougher than others, especially as your house ages.
Maintenance and repairs should be something you take into account when determining how much money you can spend on a house. In other words, you should not spend up to your limit on the house itself, as that will leave you short when unexpected repairs are necessary. You can go into debt or, alternatively, end up neglecting the house.
While some people are able to budget well and put aside money each month to use for maintenance and repairs, a home warranty is a better option for others. A home warranty is one more monthly fee that ensures you are covered for maintenance and repairs, even in an emergency. Good home warranty companies will send out trustworthy experts to help you.
If you are considering getting a home warranty, here is a useful tool to find quotes for home warranties. You will see that there are different types of plans. The ideal plan is one that covers systems issues as well as appliances, but if you only choose one, systems issues are generally more important and more costly.
Should you rent out a section of your home?
One way to lessen the cost of a new home is to use a section to actually make money. If you buy a home with a cottage on the property, you can rent it out to individuals or families, or list it on Airbnb. Even if you just have a spare room, you can make money off it on Airbnb.
However, the potential of extra income is not necessarily a good enough reason to buy a home with extra room in 2020. Firstly, the world has changed over the past few months, and it might take a while before people are able to travel. Relying on Airbnb is not advised. Furthermore, people are struggling to pay rent at the moment. Becoming a landlord right now is asking for trouble.
This does not mean it will always be this way. But if this is a real consideration for you, it might help to wait out the crisis before committing to buying a new home.
Even in the best of times, renting out part of your property is not as easy as it sounds. You will have to take care of maintenance and repairs, along with seeing to the needs of your tenant. It becomes a part time job, and you need to be sure you have the time and patience for it. It can also get expensive, with unexpected taxes as well as problems caused by difficult tenants.
Renting out property is still one of the surest ways of making money, but the reality is different when it is in your own space and when you expect it to be passive income.
Do you need a smart home?
Finally, when searching for your dream home in 2020, you will find that many homes are designed (or have been renovated) to be smart homes. They will sync with your devices, making it easier to set your security system, play music, turn lights on and off, and open and close the curtains.
If this all sounds a little bit indulgent to you, you're not alone. However, at the rate technology is evolving, smart homes might soon become far more useful. In a year or two, you might suddenly realize it is something you need.
Choosing a home based on whether it has smart capabilities might not be necessary, but it could save you money in future. Instead of having to renovate down the line to have systems installed and everything connected, a smart home is ready for future innovations.
Also, even if it is indulgent and unnecessary, these added touches are nice, and do make you feel more in tune with where the world is going.
Buying a home in 2020 is not easy, but that does not mean it is a bad idea. Make sure you have answered the above questions before settling on your decision.