Starter homes are often townhomes, single-family houses, or condominium units that are on the lower end…
The past year has seriously impacted many facets of normal life, but there is a silver lining. Historically low mortgage rates across the country have emboldened people to buy their own homes. The increased interest in becoming homeowners started in February 2020. A whopping 84 percent of Americans revealed they wanted to become homeowners rather than mere renters.
Thanks to cheap mortgage rates, the dreams of aspiring homeowners in America can now become a reality.
If you live in Kansas City, you are in an excellent position to look for a place to settle down. The real estate market of the city reveals that it’s a bustling metropolis surrounded by suburbs, and the cost of living is 3 percent lower than the national average. However, you’ll still need to be discerning, especially if you’re out looking for your very first home.
Here is a practical and comprehensive checklist you can consult whenever you’re viewing houses personally or digitally.
1. The Neighborhood
Kansas City is home to some of the best neighborhoods in the state, but not every community has the same features. The real estate agent’s adage “location, location, location” cannot be any more true. You can make as many changes as you can to your home, but changing your entire neighborhood is significantly more challenging. When looking for your new house, factor in the following considerations before coming to a decision.
Determine how physically close and accessible the neighborhood is to places that matter to you the most. Most people determine the neighborhood they’ll live in by finding out how long it takes to get from their prospective home to their workplace. You could also check how close the community is to significant people in your life like family members.
Aside from its physical location, you need to consider how accessible the neighborhood is to various forms of transportation. Are there enough roads and highways around the neighborhood so that you can avoid traffic jams? Does it have a robust public transport system, like buses or trains? What are the conditions of these thoroughfares? Remember that sometimes increased accessibility can lead to some detrimental factors, like increased noise and pollution.
Your home’s location will also dictate which school districts your children can enroll in. Real estate agents will usually provide this information to you but be prepared to do your own research. What sort of praise has schools in the district garnered? What are their facilities like? Can you envision sending your children to these schools?
There are plenty of amenities and essentials every home needs within driving distance. These include hospitals and healthcare providers as well as entertainment options. Are there nearby parks where kids and pets can play? How far away are the hospitals and how quickly can they get to your home in case of an emergency? Are there public amenities like libraries nearby? All these buildings and structures can be important in the long run.
2. The Structure
After you’ve considered the neighborhood thoroughly, you should begin assessing the structure of the house itself.
Your first concern should be the strength of the home itself. Ask your real estate agent if the house has been damaged recently, such as by a fire or a flood. These things can undermine the integrity of the building, even if you repair them. How is the ground the building is standing on? Is it swampy or flood-prone? How old is the house? Homes older than 20 years could have lots of lead in the pipes and paint, which can be detrimental to your health.
- The Bathroom
Your next order of business is to check the home’s bathrooms. For starters, are there enough of them for your entire household? If you’re only one or two people, one bathroom should be enough. But for larger households, you may need as many as two or three. You can then check on the fixtures. Are they functional? Are the designs to your liking? Does it have both hot and cold water?
- The Attic and Basement
After you’re done exploring the bathrooms, you need to look past the main floors. Often, home tours take you around the visible areas of the property, but you should also invest some time in looking at the attic and basement. These areas can sometimes hold important structural features like the boilers, foundation, and insulation. Check these areas for signs of damage or room for improvement. It always pays to look behind the curtains, so to speak.
- The Kitchen
The kitchens should be your next destination, especially if you’re culinarily inclined. Ask the agent what kind of stoves the property uses: gas or electric? Either choice will have a large effect on your utility bills. How is the kitchen laid out? Does it have enough room for future alterations like new appliances? Are the countertops stable and made of food-friendly material? How about the lighting? Are there any exhaust hoods over the range and smoke alarms over the stoves?
- Storage Space
Never underestimate the value of excellent storage spaces. This may seem like a concern primarily for people who live in the middle of cities, but it’s invaluable in a first home. If you’re planning on settling down in the community for good, you’ll need plenty of closets you can use to store your objects. Then assess the cabinet situations in the kitchen and bathrooms. The basement and attics are also prime storage space if properly secured against the elements.
- The Yard and Garden
Once the interior of the house is to your liking, you can now proceed to tour the exterior. Unlike the inside of the structure, it’s easier to alter these aspects of the property. However, major renovations and improvements can be quite costly. For example, are there any large trees in the yard? Do they pose significant damage to the home in case of a storm? Are the plants in the yard dangerous? Some decorative plants can look beautiful but are poisonous to pets or children. Make sure to voice these concerns, so you can avoid being surprised when you’ve made your purchase.
3. Other Features
There is also a plethora of other features you’ll want to factor into your final decision. These factors can be just as important as the neighborhood and structural features, so keep track of them.
- The Design
It may seem trivial, but sometimes you look at a house and immediately feel like you don’t agree with the design. Perhaps you’re not crazy about the Victorian wraparound porch or you don’t envision yourself living in a ranch-style home. Because it can be extremely expensive to recreate an entire home’s design, you’re better off choosing a home with a design you already like.
- Outdoor Features
Does the property have lots of external features like a gazebo or a fountain? Do you enjoy these features? If not, are they simply jacking up the price of the property? Consider outdoor features carefully, especially if they require regular maintenance, like swimming pools or fountains.
- Technological Upgrades
An increasing number of homes are coming with these types of improvements, ostensibly to improve their utility. Does the house come with its own security system or intercom devices? Maybe it has its own home theater set up, with projector and surround sound? Make sure you like these upgrades and get the details of their maintenance from the agent.
4. The Price
The final factor you should always consider and feature in your house hunting checklist is the price. When you get all the information, from the state of the neighborhood to the structural features present, find out if the property is worth the price. No one wants to overpay on anything, least of all real estate.
What price do you set for the property you want and how much more over it are you willing to go? Weighing the value of the house against its amenities and features is always a must. You should also determine if it’s a seller’s or buyer’s market because this will tell you if you’re going to save money or not. Properties in a seller’s market tend to be overpriced whereas homes in a buyer’s market are typically underpriced.
Keeping this list of factors to consider close at hand can help you find the home you’ve been dreaming of sooner than you think.
Cami Jones can help you find your dream home!
The search for the perfect home can be a challenge, but it doesn’t have to be! Keeping a level head, knowing what you want, and knowing how much you want to pay for your home are vital to purchasing the perfect residence. Of course, it is equally important that you have an experienced real estate agent on your side.
The real estate experts at Cami Jones & Company have been helping our clients find their dream homes for years. We have plenty of property listings that can satisfy your checklists and maybe even become your new home. Give us a call at (913) 521-5584 to start your buyer’s journey today!