David and I started out by thinking that we might want to think about buying a house sometime in the next year or two. So we decided to check out the various Houston suburbs. One Saturday we drove to one of the popular suburbs to visit open houses and new subdivisions. After a depressing drive that took twice as long as we thought it would, we realized that we had better get a plan together or we'd spend every Saturday driving and leaving little time for looking.
On the second week of house hunting with our realtor, we found the house that is perfect for us. Here is how we made the process much easier on ourselves:
- Know your budget. Contact a reputable mortgage broker before you even begin shopping to see how a manageable mortgage fits into your budget. Also speak with an insurance representative to get a ballpark estimate for that expense.
- Make a list of must haves, nice to haves and do not wants. It will keep you from getting caught up in the wrong neighborhood and attached to a house that's not right for you. We each chose 3 or 4 must haves and ranked them. When we stepped into our new home, it had all of our must haves and a lot of the nice to haves. That's how we knew it was the right house for us.
- Research neighborhoods and school zones. Even if you don't have kids in school, you may someday. At any rate, a great school nearby helps you house to sell later on. Look at zoning maps and check out where any future new schools are to be built to see if your new address might be subject to redistricting.
- Type in prospective addresses on the national sex offender registry to make sure there are no creepos living next door. You can never be 100% sure about your neighbors, but this will help you to avoid living next door to a convicted offender.
- Drive around hopeful neighborhoods a few times, at different times of the day. I did several drive bys of homes we liked to see how much traffic came through during rush hour, if people were out and about during the day, and how many kids were around on weekends. It's a helpful way to help you see what kind of neighborhood you might be living in. For instance, we wanted on a street with very little cut-through traffic that had families nearby.
- Even if this isn't your first house, I can't say enough about 100 Questions Every First Time Home Buyer Should Ask. We used it five years ago and it was just as helpful this time.
I have the home buying part down. Do you have any tips for packing and moving?