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Home Shopping Tips for First Time Homeowners

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Shopping for your first home can be a challenging and exciting experience. Like many buyers in your position, you may already have an idea of what you are looking for. While knowing what you want will make home buying significantly easier, be sure not to let the pursuit of your dream home cloud your ability to recognize a quality home when you see it.

Beauty truly is a subjective idea. There are many great homes at even better prices buried beneath hideous wallpaper, pink bathrooms and unlandscaped backyards. The ability to look beyond these unfortunate fashion faux pas may be your ticket to finding a home at a better value.

Before you throw on the walking shoes and start the house hunt, there are a few things you need to do. The first step towards home ownership is to get pre-approval for a home loan. Shop around for the best rates and work with your lender to figure out how much home you can reasonably afford. In order to stay within your budget and avoid disappointment, do not make offers exceeding 5% of the maximum price you can afford to spend.

One of the most important qualities to consider in a home is the floor plan. If you find a good home at a solid price that does not match your ideal floor plan, consider the cost of rearranging or adding to the home. If the cost of these modifications still presents a value, the house may be a winner.

Other important features include:

• Storage Space: There is no such thing as too much storage space. Be sure to look for closets and garages that offer ample space for your storage needs. Multi-purpose areas such as converted garages or offices can easily be repurposed at little cost.
• Aesthetics: If you find a home with potential on the inside that lacks curb appeal on the outside, try to imagine what it would look like with some fresh paint or new shutters. Would this modification be cost effective?
• Surfaces: While ugly wallpaper and dirty windows can be a turn-off to a potential homebuyer, remember that these are things that can easily be fixed. Do not miss out on a home with great potential over minor things like this.
• Walls and Floors: Walls and floors make a huge difference to the overall appearance of the home. Chipped paint or markings on the walls can often be remedied quickly and for cheap. A fresh coat of paint or some new wallpaper can leave the walls looking clean and crisp. Likewise, carpeting and flooring are relatively easy fixes as well. In fact, in some instances, you may even be able to include an allowance for new carpeting in your bid.
• Kitchen: The kitchen is one of the most important rooms in a home. For many, an ideal kitchen is spacious and freshly furnished with the most up-to-date appliances. Try not to fret too much over the colors in the kitchen as they can be changed quickly and affordably. Before turning the house down based on the kitchen alone, be sure to consider that through small scale projects like cabinet refacing or large projects like installing new countertops, you have the opportunity to redesign the entire kitchen and make it your own.
• Pools: For those who want a pool, make sure to buy a home that already has a pool installed. This addition can be very expensive and does not reap a full return should you ever sell the property. Pool repairs can be pricey but will still be cheaper than installing a new one. In the event that you find an otherwise ideal home with an oddly shaped pool, it may still be worth considering in the long haul.
•Landscaping: In your mind, your dream home is probably perfectly landscaped to suit your liking. In the event that your dream house features some less than dreamy landscaping, remember that homes with little to moderate landscaping offer a great opportunity to build exactly what you want from scratch.

Before embarking on the search for your first home, sit down and make a list of must-have and would-like-to-have features. This will help you discern between a house with minor flaws that still has great potential and a home that is nice and new but lacks some of the key qualities that you are looking for. You may find a house with potential that is well within your budget and only needs minor fixing. Always consult a professional home inspector prior to purchasing the home. His or her opinion will be instrumental in the process of making an offer on a house. Finally, remember that unless you are building the home from the bottom up, there is a good chance that you will never find a home that is exactly what you want. Consider this a great opportunity to add your own personality to a previously owned house.