By Melanie Robitaille, Sr. Staff Writer and Graphic Designer
Extraordinary times call for extraordinary measures, but most home buyers typically don’t want to gamble on one of the largest investments they ever make. And yet, over the last year that’s precisely what many felt they had to do.
A change in work environment was all it took to thoroughly shake up real estate. Hot spot metropolises were seeing a decline in rental markets and many of their residents heading out of town, driving housing markets in lesser active, nearby states and provinces. Inventory growing pains, and rising prices in typically affordable markets created a flurry of activity many real estate professionals had never seen or experienced before, but as time passed, the effects of this began to show.
Before you step into a rapid-fire market, avoid tight spots and common missteps by taking these points into account to help ensure you don’t suffer from buyer’s remorse:
Take stock of your personal priorities and truly ask yourself what you need and want. Just because you can work from home, does it mean you truly want to, or do you want to work wherever you may roam? Will you work remotely indefinitely? Do you have health concerns requiring regular visits to professionals, or the need for unlimited internet and high speeds? Population density drives access to things like quality healthcare and communication technologies.
If relocation is what you want, then plan a stay in the area you’re interested in before you make it permanent. See what it’s like to actually live there. Talk with locals, look at their school systems and infrastructure. See it through the eyes of a resident, not just a tourist. Does this new community feel like a good fit for you, and can you find some homes on the market that you could see yourself in?
Get your house in order, and I’m not just referring to all that comes with prepping to sell and/or move. Sit down with your financial institution or planner and have a real conversation about your economic plans for the future and what your options are. Everyone’s risk level is different, but it’s good to understand whether you can live mortgage free, or where interest rates and markets are trending so you’re not biting off more than you can chew in the long run.
Find a knowledgeable real estate professional, preferably one with experience or contacts in your area of interest, to work within your priorities and budget to find a home that’s just right for you and the lifestyle you want or have. A quality agent will be able to tell you when pricing margins don’t add up, whether or not it’s worth bidding in that war at all, and why. If you’re unable to take that trip mentioned above, a good agent will be able to fill in some of those blanks about schools, local businesses, and infrastructure so be sure to ask.
Don’t be tempted to rush the process because even when time is of the essence, conditions, appraisals or home inspections, and real estate lawyers exist for a reason. Removing or skipping steps can mean the difference between home sweet home and the money pit. Appraisers can tell you what a home’s “book value” is, compared to what inflated market prices may dictate. Conditions and lawyers ensure you’re protected and have recourse should anything turn up in the process or the contract, and a thorough home inspection will catch many things hidden from the naked eye, or layman’s perspective.
House hunting, home buying, and moving, together, are meant to be a positive process; process being the key word. You don’t want to have to double back years, if not months, after what was supposed to be a change for the better because it didn’t feel right or wasn’t actually what you were led to believe. Understand what you need, where you have financial wiggle room, but make sure you’re doing it for the right reasons, and with eyes open.