Whether it’s your first home or retirement home, your Austin home search can be equal parts exciting and overwhelming. While your initial reaction to finding a new place to call home is one of eager anticipation, soon your mind starts filling with questions: What’s my budget? What neighborhood should I buy in? How much space do I need? Should I go with a condo, townhome or single family house? Which real estate agency should I trust? Where do I begin?
Stop! Our advice is to begin by taking a deep, relaxing breath. Don’t let your racing mind stress you out. Next, read our list for the 7 ways to improve your Austin home search to guide you on the right path to finding the home that meets your needs, while making the process as smooth as possible.
Know Your Budget Before Beginning an Austin Home Search
Buying a house is similar to buying a car or making any other substantial purchase. To improve your Austin home search, start by getting pre-approved for a mortgage to get a good idea of how much a bank is willing to lend you so you know what you can afford. Create a budget that you’re comfortable spending each month as well as determining how much you can put down.
When establishing your budget, be mindful of other debts you may have such as credit card debt as well as expenses such as car payments, home repairs, utilities, groceries, cable, entertainment, etc.
As any homeowner can tell you, unexpected expenses always seem to pop up from time to time. That’s why it’s important not to stretch yourself too thin when it comes to your house payment.
Remember to Factor in Closing Costs
Remember to keep closing costs in mind, which will vary, based on the price of the house, the size of the mortgage, tax and insurance requirements and a number of other factors. Closing costs range from lender applications and processing fees to legal fees and home inspection fees.
Researching Neighborhoods Will Help Guide Your Austin Home Search
When it comes to your Austin home search, remember the three magic words in real estate are: location, location, location. Be sure to research several neighborhoods to find the one that best fits your needs. To help narrow down your options, consider commute times to work, school districts, as well as distance from amenities that are most important to you such as restaurants, grocery stores, shopping centers and family.
You’ll also want to research neighborhoods to get a better picture of how much crime occurs in each area (when compared to other similarly sized cities, Austin has a lower crime rate). Also consider which Austin neighborhoods are up and coming. Take a look at our handy Austin neighborhoods list to learn more about each neighborhood.
Make a List of Your Must-Have Home Features
When it comes to home features, there’s a difference between must-haves and nice-to-haves. To help narrow down your Austin home search, first make a list of what’s most important — number of bedrooms, bathrooms, size of backyard, storage space, proximity to work and schools, etc.
Next, make a list of nice-to-haves — spare room for a home office, pool, deck, new appliances, etc.
A must-have list is extremely beneficial when working with a Realtor® so he or she can use it to improve your Austin home search, saving you both time.
Be Realistic about the Features You Need in a Home
Unless you’re building your own home, going on the hunt to find the “the perfect” house with everything on your must-have and nice-to-have list is setting you up for disappointment. While it’s possible to find a house with all of the features and amenities that’s also in your budget, realistically, you’ll likely have to make some compromises and forego some items on your list.
Have an Open Mind When Doing an Austin Home Search
Go into your house hunting with an open mind. An agent, for example, may show you a house that’s a little further away from your job than you’d hope, but the price is under your budget and checks off all the boxes of your must-haves. Or, a house doesn’t have the third bedroom you need, but is priced right, is in an up and coming neighborhood and has ample room for expansion.
It’s important to also remember to look beyond aesthetics that can easily be changed. Don’t rule a space out because the flooring needs to be replaced or the bathroom screams 1980s. Focus instead on what can’t be changed, such as location, or things that are expensive to fix, such as major foundation issues, a roof that is past its life, an old hvac, termite damage, etc.
Find an Austin Realtor® You Can Trust to Guide Your Home Search
One of the best ways to improve your Austin home search is to find the right Austin Realtor ® to work with. Just as you’d go to a specialist to treat a specific health condition, trusting your home buying experience to a knowledgeable and highly reputable Realtor® is key to your house hunting success. A Realtor® is the best person to help answer all of your questions and has a wealth of information to help navigate the ins and outs of buying a home.
Just like choosing a medical provider, it’s important to choose a Realtor® who’s easy to talk to, spends the time explaining the process, gets back to you in a timely manner and gives you the best advice.
Habitat Hunters can help find the home that’s right for you, whether it’s an Austin condo, townhome, or house. We’re one of the longest-standing independent Austin real estate agencies. Contact us today and let us know your goals for your Austin home search — we’ll be happy to help.