FINDING THE RIGHT HOME
South Florida- With all the choices in today’s market, how do you go about finding the right home? It seems the more research you do, the more options you discover.
It’s important to visualize your needs and plan ahead. “Know what you want in a home, what’s important to you and what you can live without,” Camila Murata of Luxury Real Estate Group says. “Many of us start out with a champagne taste and a beer budget, so it’s important to be realistic,” she adds.
Where and what you buy will affect you for as long as you live in the house. “Get your priorities in order before you start looking or even talk to a real estate broker or sales associate,” Murata says.
For the first time homebuyers this is a new experience, so it’s especially important to do your homework. If you currently own a home, you know exactly what’s lacking. You may need another bedroom or bathroom, or a good school nearby.
First, decide where you want to live. A big part of the answer hinges on where and how you earn a living. If your work requires a lot of reading, or is quite stressful, public transportation may offer valuable time to sit quietly. “Regardless, you should practice the commute in rush hour before you make a commitment. A seemingly quite road can transform into gridlock during peak hours.” Murata cautions.
People with children have other major considerations: School and safety. If you plan to send your children to private school, you can live where you want, assuming you can easily arrange transportation. On the other hand, a lavish public school system may indicate high local real estate taxes. Check them out.
Obviously, lifestyle is an important consideration. People who frequently dine out, go dancing and attend the theater belong in the city or a close-in suburb. “In other words, make sure you are in close proximity to the things that matter most,” Murata says.
It used to be that homes came in a limited variety, but today you have many choices. In addition to a single family home, you can have a townhouse, a condominium or a co-op.
In planned unit developments (PUDs), you can find almost any combination. In condos and other such communities, make sure the rules and regulations as well as the by-laws, match your lifestyle.
This type of housing is great for the people who want to own their own space and not be responsible for mowing the lawn or repairing the roof; a management company handles that.
On the other hand, you’ll pay fees for these services. “In addition to checking the documents and financial soundness of the homeowner’s association, you must determine if the monthly fees are worth the services and additional amenities, such as swimming pool and exercise room.” Murata explains.
Affordability can be a factor not only in the type of housing, but whether it;s new or an existing home. Old houses often have fine woodwork or interesting nooks and crannies not normally found in new homes. They generally sit on landscaped lots with mature trees and grown bushes.
New homes may cost more, but you can make many more decisions on amenities, colors, carpeting and fixtures. “Make sure you’re dealing with a reputable builder, and have an attorney review all documents, Murata says.
Selecting a real estate professional is an important first step in beginning your search. “Ask for personal recommendations to find an individual who is knowledgeable about the neighborhood and has access to the local Multiple Listing Service,” Murata says. Make sure you feel confident about his or her knowledge and skills, and understand the business relationship that you have established between you.
Murata is a member of the Real Estate Buyer’s Agent Council (REBAC) of the National Association of Realtors, and has obtained the Accredited Buyer Representative (ABR) designation. As the world’s largest association of real estate professional focussing specifically on representing the real estate buyer, REBAC is “The voice for Buyer Representation,” with more than 32,000 active real estate professionals members of the organization throughout the world.