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The Best Real Estate List to Follow When Purchasing a Home

There are lots of “Lists” proclaiming the best places to live, best neighborhoods, best Zip Codes, and more. If you are in the market to buy this Spring, all of these lists can be swirling around in your head just adding confusion to your purchase. How do you evaluate those Lists? Those recommendations? How do you evaluate those lists with what your REALTOR® is telling you? What list is the best one to follow when purchasing a home? The answer is Your List!

Everyone has a reason, or two, that they want purchase property—to put down roots, have a place to call their own, to invest in the real estate market, add stability to their life, wealth builder, and more. Honing in on what is your reason to purchase can help you immensely in deciding where you should purchase. The list an investor puts together before purchasing, for example, is likely very different than the list a homeowner would make.

So, before you meet with a REALTOR®, you should write down why YOU are buying. Underneath that headline, write down the points that would make the property a good fit for you because of your reason to purchase. Let’s do some examples to see what your list might look like.

Let’s take the reason to buy example of “To Stop Renting and Have a Place to Call My Own.” You might consider the following points for your list:

  • Size of home you need.

  • Monthly mortgage payment you are comfortable with.

  • Length of time you plan to stay in the property.

  • Type of home you prefer—condo, coop, row home, or stand-alone.

  • Architectural styles that are appealing to you.

  • Is outdoor space something you need?

  • Do you have a pet and will it need a yard, or is a condo/coop ok?

  • Is parking a must or nice to have?

  • How much furniture do you have and must it all go into your new home?

  • What length of commute time to work that you would prefer?

  • Transportation modes that are important to you—from walking to driving a car.

  • Neighborhoods that feel like home.

  • Neighborhoods that have the activities you enjoy and can get to quickly.

  • What are the typical price points for the home you need in the neighborhoods you listed above?

Now, let’s look at a completely different reason to buy: “Own an Investment Property.” When looking to invest, your list might include the following points:

  • Neighborhoods close to multiple transportation options.

  • Neighborhoods with lots of amenities or close to a large employer.

  • How long do you expect to hold the property?

  • Neighborhoods that are trending in popularity.

  • Neighborhoods that will grow in value based on surrounding development.

  • Popular type and size of rentals in the area.

  • Value of the property at purchase and in the future—if you are handy, perhaps you can buy a place in need of some upgrades and repairs that you can easily improve on your own to add value to your investment.

  • The cost to purchase weighed against the rent you can charge. Can you cover your mortgage, taxes and other expenses and make money with the rent you can charge for the area?

Certainly, there may be more data points to either list, but these examples will give you a starting point. When you meet with your REALTOR® share your list. Don’t be shy. Working as a team with your agent can help immensely in the search and purchase process. Searching for a property can be tiring and overwhelming if you and your agent are not focused. Go over your list together and ask your REALTOR® for feedback. Have you thought of everything? What other data points should you consider? What else should you be considering as part of your search?

Armed with a great list, you’ll make a great purchase.

Editor's note: Originally published in The Washington Blade.

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