The Boston area home buying market is full of experience as a dynamic, ever-changing process. Because it’s a “slice of life,” shopping for a home can often present you with challenges at best and disappointments at worst. To be prepared for the challenges and to minimize the disappointments we’ve identified five ways you can re-position your home search requirements – and make it a more enjoyable and more successful project.
The Neighborhood or Market: Regroup, rethink or retreat.
If you’re consistently unable to find the “just-right” home you’re looking for in the neighborhood or market you’ve identified as where you’d like to live, do a quick reassessment. Perhaps you’ve set your sights in the Boston area home buying market too high and can’t find the size, quality or style home in the price range you hoped. Conversely, maybe you keep looking at homes you can most comfortably afford, but they don’t meet your family’s needs. It may be time to take a closer look at other neighborhoods to see what they have to offer.
After some regrouping and rethinking, you can do a little more research in other neighborhoods. You may discover neighborhoods that were initially ruled out now present new opportunities. For example, you may find that a price tag of, say, $400,000 in one neighborhood or nearby market may provide “more bang for the buck” than that same $400,000 in a trendier neighborhood. If you still can’t find a suitable home, it could be time to retreat – meaning your expectations versus the reality of the housing market are out of line. You’re either expecting too much for where you’re looking, or need to reconsider what you’re willing to pay for what you want.
Consider Cosmetic Attention: No, not for you… for the house!
Let’s be honest, the choice between buying a “move-in ready” home that’s new or already been renovated versus one that needs remodeling is a virtual no-brainer. The time, talent, money and desire to undertake a home remodeling is often lacking among most people in the Boston area home buying market. As a result, there are homes in the market with attractive, popular locations that are 40 years old or more. Those homes won’t command nearly the attention and interest than the newer one – or remodeled one – a few blocks away. If you’re up for the challenge, however, older homes may be worth a look. You may find the money you can save in the difference in the sales price can be used to update the property. Best of all, most of the homes may require little more than some cosmetic attention – like fresh paint and refinished hardwood floors.
Put Your Heads Together: Get on the same page.
Many times, couples in the Boston area home buying market find themselves at odds over what they want in a home. He wants a bonus room to convert into a man-cave or an in-home office. She wants a larger laundry room or an additional guest bedroom. Being able to understand what each other wants and needs is not only the key to compromise, but it can save time and aggravation during the search for the home that satisfies both parties.
See if You Can Come up With More Money: Explore your options.
While we certainly don’t recommend taking on a higher payment than you can comfortably afford, there are ways to use some creativity with the down payment or financing. Often homebuyers have difficulty with the remaining 5% or so of the down payment. Unfortunately, that 5% can prevent them from reaching their budget goals, and kill the deal.
There are options, however. If possible, look into getting assistance from family members to use as part of the down payment. If that isn’t an option, there are lenders that offer mortgages with low down payments. Remember, just because one lender doesn’t offer a particular program you’re looking for, it doesn’t mean another bank won’t. Shop around – you may find just the solution you’re seeking.
Don’t Force the Timing: It’s either right or it’s not.
The Boston area home buying market isn’t right for everybody, all the time. With interest rates having been near all-time record lows for several months prior to their recent increase, real estate experts were saying it was the best time in decades to buy a home. While interest rates were low, home prices – and rental rates – were on the rise, making it difficult for first-time borrowers to afford down payments. So, many prospective homeowners were relegated to remain on the sidelines. The simple truth is this: The timing is only “right” when it’s right for you and your particular financial situation. So, don’t force the timing. Homes are bought and sold every day and mortgage financing is available. Chances are, that’s not going to change – no matter who wins the presidential election!
There’s absolutely nothing wrong with putting the brakes on your home search for a little while if that’s what you feel compelled to do. Too often, prospective homeowners are pressured into making a decision based on market conditions. Sometimes they’re pressured because an apartment lease is coming due and they need to renew or move. Again, if you don’t feel ready to jump into the Boston area home buying pool, don’t. Many people find waiting can help them in the long run. It can give them added time to save money or decrease debt to afford a larger down payment. Other people use that time to work on improving their credit score. In addition, some prospective home purchasers simply may elect not to buy a home because they may be planning to relocate in a relatively short time. No matter what your reason for deciding against buying – it’s your decision. You may even look back and think it was the smartest thing you ever did. When it comes to buying a home or not buying, smart decisions are good decisions.
Read more about home buying tips in the section of articles on Boston area Home Buying Tips just below our Boston area Real Estate Categories in the column to your right. Remember, we also post tips daily on Facebook and Twitter. Check us out there, too.