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This is a buyer’s market nowadays, and people can afford to spend some time looking at multiple properties before they commit. This is very important because this is going to be where you’re going to be living for the foreseeable future — and for some, it will be the place they call home for the rest of their lives. You can’t make such decisions without considering what you want and what you need. Here are some tips that will help you get the most out of your home purchase.

Will I Love Living Here?

A house or condominium may look nice upon first glance, but be prepared to do your Real-Estate-buying_copy1homework. Location is absolutely everything when considering such an important purchase. Is the place relatively close to work? If it isn’t, is the commute reasonable enough to do each day? Is it easy to do daily errands like shopping or going to the post office? Is the noise in the neighborhood at a tolerable level? Is it safe to walk around during the day or at night? Will my neighbors take pride in their properties and keep them clean the way I would mine? All of these factors are important when choosing the right location to find your perfect home.

Is the Size Right for Me?

It’s important to consider the size of your family unit when purchasing a home. Houses can take Real-Estate-buying_copy2up a lot of time and money to maintain and it doesn’t make much sense to commit to a sprawling two-story house with multiple guest rooms and bathrooms if you’re single or only you and your partner live there. Now if you have lots of guests and family visiting all the time, that’s one thing, but excess space can be a drawback later on. On another note, if you have animals and they love to play in the back yard, take note of each house you look at and keep in mind that a house with a spacious back yard would be ideal. Otherwise, look for areas with dog parks and relatively uncongested streets to walk your babies.

Feel Free to Have a List of “Must Haves” Handy

As mentioned previously, this is the place you’re going to be spending waking and non-waking Real-Estate-buying_copy3hours for the foreseeable future, so if there are things that you just can’t live with, or can’t live without, make sure you keep those in mind. Why purchase something as big as a home if you’re only going to regret it later? For example, if you have to have a house with an in-ground pool, request that you only see those listings. If you have a lot of clothes and accessories and walk-in closets are a must, make sure you have enough room for everything. For people who love to cook, the quality and size of the kitchen is so important. Who wants to cook Peking duck or foie gras in a cramped kitchenette with one burner and a small oven? In short, don’t apologize for having needs and make sure those needs are met.

Consider Energy Costs

In Florida especially, this is so important. It takes a lot to cool a house, and in the Sunshine StateReal-Estate-buying_copy4 where it’s hot more often than not, this can translate into very high electric bills. Make sure your house is energy-efficient. Find out how the thermostat works and be prepared to replace it with a better model if you really want to buy the house. Is the water heated by gas or electric? How long ago was the water heater installed? Is the insulation in the house sufficient to keep cool air in and keep the oppressive humidity out? Windows can provide warmth and sunlight and can make any place bright and livable. What kinds of windows are essential to you? Do you want skylights or full-length windows? All of these questions should be answered to your satisfaction because not only will you be more comfortable, you’ll have more money in your pocket when the summer months trudge on.

Make Sure You Get a Second Opinion

Say you’ve finally gotten to the point where you’ve found the house of your dreams. Now what Taste-Garden_copy4do you do? Make an offer? Not so fast. Consult a home inspector first. He will be able to tell you if your house is in tip-top shape or if you’ll need to make repairs. A great deal can quickly turn into a money pit if you don’t know how your home’s true condition. After a home inspection, you can find out what problems need to be fixed before you commit to buying. Even newly-constructed houses can have their share of problems, so don’t assume that since you’re buying new, you’re in the clear. Get that second opinion and hire an inspector; the cost of hiring him will be repaid to you several times over should you ever have to sell your home in the future.

For more home-buying tips, feel free to contact our local realtors featured in this issue.

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Mike Halterman
Mike Halterman has been the editor of Hotspots Central since its launch in July 2016. He joined the Hotspots Media Group family as editor of Hotspots' South Florida magazine in June 2013. A former "40 Under 40" honoree in The Advocate magazine, Mike lives in the Tampa Bay area.