Have you successfully gone through the application process and achieved the, “you’re pre-approved” status from your lender? Well if so, congratulations are in order! You have accomplished a major step and are undoubtedly excited and ready to go house hunting in Houston! When hunting for your “perfect dream home”, a few things need to be considered before you hop in the car and make the journey from house to house.
NEEDS VS WANTS
The most highly recommended way to begin your search is to start with a list of needs and wants. This is extremely helpful, especially when there is more than 1 person who will be involved in the decision-making process for your future home. When making your list, start by determining needs first. Location is always a top priority because it is the one thing that cannot be changed after the home purchase. After you have narrowed your list down to the top 6 homes, take time to drive the neighborhoods (during peak hours, evenings and weekends) and scope out the neighbors to get a better idea of what life would be like living in that area.
MAKE A LIST
Other recommended items that may be high on your list, are items that would require a large investment from you to be able to change or modify after moving in (i.e. square footage, amount of windows, or amount of bedrooms & bathrooms). Items such as the color of paint and type of floors can always be changed and modified later with a reasonably affordable investment, so these things are better suited as wants. Be sure to have each person make a list and then compare each of the lists to finalize everyone’s #1 need, all the way down to everyone’s #10 want. Remember, no home is “Perfect” and will not have everything you need and want! It’s very important that you all agree on your needs and wants, as well as what items can be replaced or subbed for another item, if this needs to happen while house hunting in Houston.
OPEN HOUSES AND OPEN MOUTHS
So, you are driving down one of the top 3 neighborhoods on your list and you see the open house arrows and balloons flying in the wind waving you over! Super exciting right? You’ve got your pre-approval and you love the curb appeal as you get out! So, you park and hop out, and are greeted by the nicest agent with professional attire and a beautiful smile on their face! You sign in and start touring the home together. In the process of the tour, you happen to mention to the agent, that you were preapproved for $330,000 by your lender; but because you’d like to keep your monthly notes reasonable, you would rather stay in under a threshold of $285,000 if possible. If you have done this, you’ve done a great big disservice to yourself because that agent in the open house usually works for the seller!
When house hunting in Houston, it’s important to remember that unless you have a SIGNED, and WRITTEN agreement with an agent exclusively representing you as the buyer, the agent AUTOMATICALLY works for the seller! That’s right — even if you have found an ad online and you meet the agent at their office or if the agent was referred by a close friend — if you and the agent do not have a WRITTEN representation agreement, THAT AGENT AUTOMATICALLY WORKS FOR THE SELLER. But don’t fret! The State of Texas looks out for buyers, by allowing a specific time frame on each written agreement – this time frame is the buyers choice, and can be as short as 1 day or as long as 1 year (or more if needed). So, do yourself a huge favor by at least signing the agreement for the 1 day that you are out house hunting in Houston; even if you are not yet so familiar with the agent. This way, you can have FAIR and HONEST BUYER REPSENTATION! The agent is then bound by the agreement to negotiate to the best of their ability on your behalf – even if it is just for 1 day!
HOA OR NO HOA?
Before house hunting in Houston another important factor that many people tend to overlook is, if they are willing to choose a home that has an HOA. If you are wondering what an HOA is, Investopedia.com defines it as, “…an organization in a subdivision, planned community, or condominium building that makes and enforces rules for the properties and its residents. Those who purchase property within an HOA’s jurisdiction automatically become members and are required to pay dues, known as HOA fees.” So, in other words, an HOA can limit what type and how many pets you may have, what trees can be planted in your yard, or even restrict your ability to have a pool added. There are different “rules” (the legal term is Covenants, Conditions & Restrictions) that vary based on the community in which the home is located. They are usually set in place to protect the neighborhood’s appraisal and appreciation values, but in many instances include perks like splashpads and neighborhood play areas or pools. Therefore, while house hunting in Houston, it is always wise to have your Realtor request these documents and have them sent over to you prior to making an offer on a home. That way, you are sure to weed out homes whose HOA CCR’s do not fit your preferences.
COVID-19 SAFETY PRECAUTIONS
So, it’s no doubt that during these times of the new pandemic, you may be concerned about safety while house hunting in Houston. Even if you are not, the seller whose home you visit may be concerned, due to them being in a higher risk category. Keep in mind that if this is the case, and the seller chooses to only allow virtual showings until an offer is on the table, be advised that you still have a right to view the home in person, as well as having the home professional inspected by a TREC licensed inspector during the option period. Another thing to be abreast of, is that due to the National Association of Realtors’ COVID-19 guidelines, every Realtor should have hand sanitizer and masks, and will employ the use of the 6 feet rule while showing homes. Also, be aware that per NAR’s guidelines, children are not allowed to attend showings.
IF YOU LIKE IT PUT A RING ON IT
Everyone’s heard that Bey classic about if you like it put a ring on it! In the song, when he didn’t “put a ring on it” Bey flipped to another man who was interested! When house hunting in Houston, keep this phrase in mind. If a home meets all of the expectations of your NEEDS but is missing 1 or 2 items of your wants, you will probably want to “put a ring on it” – or in other words; make an offer! Why? Because sellers are trying to meet their Home Selling goals; just like you are trying to meet your goals while house hunting in Houston! If you decide to go home and “sleep on it” for a day or two, and another buyer who is house hunting in Houston likes that very same home and they make an offer, the seller will often times accept the 1st buyer’s offer. Remember, “time is of the essence” when house hunting in Houston and the inventory is currently low, not just in Houston, but Nationwide according to the National Association of Realtors! Therefore, take your list with you when house hunting in Houston and if fits the list, “PUT A RING ON IT”!
ALWAYS HERE TO HELP
At NB Elite Realty, we realize that house hunting in Houston can be somewhat overwhelming at times. That is why we have several agents ready to help you remove the guesswork from your search! We offer the most extensively trained and professional agents with a broker of over 25 years experience in not only residential house hunting, but selling and multiple forms of investments as well! We’d love to help you while house hunting in Houston and look forward to creating the most enjoyable experiences for you, while doing so!