Southwest Michigan

Home Search

Now you are ready to start seriously looking for your new home
Looking at properties can be fun, frustrating, and challenging. Where to live? What style of home? Old or new? Ready-to-go or a fixer-upper? Searching websites will bring up thousands of homes for sale. As you educate yourself on the market, your agent will help you narrow your priorities and make an informed decision about your final choices.

Do Your Wants Match Your Needs?
A good first step to buying a new home is to prioritize the amenities you really need the most. Be prepared to compromise a bit. Dreams of marble countertops, gleaming hardwood floors and a pool in the backyard are great but be careful to prioritize your real NEEDS over WANTS. Separating the two may be difficult. Your basic needs include a roof and walls, heat and, possibly, air conditioning depending on the local climate. But you might tell your real estate agent that you want a four-bedroom, two-story with a beautiful fireplace and a fenced yard on a cul-de-sac. Before you get completely carried away, try to define what you need the most in your next home.
Make a List
Make two columns, one for wants and one for needs. Needs should include items such as price range, school requirements, location, number of bedrooms and bathrooms, size of the garage, and how much fixer-upper repair you are willing to do yourself. Wants could include more nonessential, like a recently remodeled kitchen or bathrooms, hot tub, home style, new windows, a large deck, or professional landscaping.

How Large or Small?
How much space do you need? Will your family be growing? Do you want to downsize? Do you need a lot of storage space? Do you want a three-car garage? Think about the amount of square feet you want but keep the number flexible as you begin your home search. Consider how you want your family to fit in your new home.
How long do you intend to live in the new home? If it is only for a short term, its location, value, and neighborhood will be important for the future resale. If you think you will live there longer than five years, you will have more time for remodeling or expansion. Will you need a large lot for a new addition?

Once you have completed your list, prioritize everything with the needs at the top followed by the wants. Share it with your agent so he/she can help you find properties available in your price range that best fill your desires. It is good to have this work done before you start looking to make sure you buy the right house for your family’s needs.

Customize Home Finder
Your customized Home Finder feature allows you to filter thousands of listings based on your criteria that you select. You can simply search for houses in a certain area and price range, or you can look for houses that fit your specific style. If you know you want a brick house with gas heat and a garage, you can get the results you are looking for. Most real estate websites do not offer that degree of choice. My Home Finder feature offers further tools for home buyers. By setting up your free customized search with me, you also get these additional features:

  • Saved Searches - That allows you to easily maintain lists of properties that match your criteria without having to enter any information, and there is no limit to the number of searches you can save.
  • The Favorites Folder - A great way to put in order those specific listings that interest you most.
  • The New Listing Notification Service - Which updates you via email as to new listings that match the criteria of any saved search.
Deal Breakers for Buyers to Remember

There are several things that buyers need to keep in mind when buying their home. Certain things in a home cannot be changed. I have listed three things that cannot be changed.

Location- unless you are buying the home to move to a new location, you are stuck with where it is sitting. Is it too far from work, near a railroad track, busy freeway or on a busy intersection? The noise from these locations can get to be bad.

Floor Plan - if you are looking for an open floor plan so that you can entertain family and friends, buying a house with small chopped up rooms is not the answer. Tiring down walls is not as easy as it may seem. You will need both an architect and a contractor. This will be expensive and time consuming.

Placement of the Home - if you are looking for a quiet, secluded, and private home buying a house that is a roads edge or a corner lot is not a good fit. Keep looking.

What you need to know about buying a house made simple

Buying a home is one the biggest investments you will ever make. I have put together a cheat sheet to help you along. 
  • Keep in mind that you should be buying a home that you plan to live in for at least 10 years.  
  • Get pre-approved with a fixed-rate mortgage so that you may budget exactly how much you will be paying every month. Shop around for a good mortgage. This can save you money. Remember that you should not spend more than a third of your after-tax income.
  • Buy a house that you will be happy living in for those 10 years. You will be eating, sleeping, entertaining and in some cases raising your children in this house. Make a list of the must haves.
  • Set your budget and DO NOT GO OVER IT. Remember to consider closing costs, deposits and additional monthly costs of insurance, taxes, and additional utilities.
  • Calculate what 20 % of your price point is for the traditional down payment.
  • Prepare for the worst. Keep an emergency reserve of about six months of living expenses in case you lose your job or get sick.
  •  There is a lot of talk these days about Foreclosures,REOs and Short Sales. Some first time buyers think that buying a REO is a money saving way to get their first home. This normally turns out differently.

Let Valerie Bomberger, ABR, AHWD with REMAX Harbor Country Help.

Berrien County Michigan Homes For Sale

Copyright MichRIC, LLC. All rights reserved.

Information Deemed Reliable But Not Guaranteed. The firm operating this website does not display the entire MLS (or MichRIC) Broker Reciprocity database on this web site. Any use of search facilities of data on the site, other than by a consumer looking to purchase real estate, is prohibited. Updated on . The listing broker’s offer of compensation is made only to participants of the MLS where the listing is filed.