By: Kayla Dunphe, Marketing Communications Specialist at Dead River Company
If you’re a first time homebuyer, as I recently was, I feel your pain—and your excitement! Buying your first home IS exciting, but it can also be overwhelming. Some of the things I learned in the process could help you.
My best advice is do not worry about cosmetics such as paint color, carpet, or some hideous wallpaper. Those items are relatively easy to change and less expensive than, say, the heating system or the lack of closet space. It’s the less glamorous aspects of a new home that ultimately are the most important.
- Is there public water and sewer service or are there a well and a private septic system? Each has pros and cons in terms of cost and maintenance. Figure out which you’re most comfortable with.
- How is the house heated? Here in northern New England, heating your house is a six- to nine-month annual commitment, depending on the weather. Don’t be afraid to ask upfront for estimates on annual fuel consumption and copies of the last years’ energy bills. Ask for an energy audit, too. The most efficient heating system will still lose heat through a poorly weatherized house.
- How old is the heating system? This is important. If the house has an 18- to 20-year-old furnace or boiler, that’s a replacement expense you can count on soon.
- Electric or propane stove for cooking? Some people are die-hards about their preferred method of cooking! If there’s propane in the kitchen, ask if it’s used elsewhere, too. Many homes now have propane powered clothes dryers, hot water heaters, indoor fireplaces, and even outdoor fire pits.
- Spend some time in the back yard and the neighborhood. What do you hear? Nearby Interstate traffic? Incessant barking dogs? A game of Whiffle ball? Silence? Be clear on what you want – a vibrant neighborhood, a quiet street, or a rural landscape.
Finally, get mortgage pre-approval from your bank. That way you know what you can afford and what you can’t. If you have a budget with no wiggle room, tell your realtor you want to see homes only in your price range. And stick to it. (Trust me, if you see a house that’s “just a little above your budget” you’re going to want it. There’s a reason it’s more expensive.)
Happy house hunting!