There are myriad aspects of life that are mirrored in real estate: the choices, the finalities, the unknowns, the attachments, the DECISIONS. Real estate is a financial, emotional, and social topic – one that evokes a reservoir of thoughts and feelings from agents, buyers, and sellers alike. That excess of emotions only increases when competition is fierce, the market is wavering, or the options are so limitless that they feel overwhelming.
Regardless of time or place, one thing remains steady and certain: Real estate is a real big deal. Often, potential buyers get fixated on finding answers to impossible questions: Is now exactly the right time? Will I know for sure I’ve made the right choice? Will I ever regret this purchase? Is this my absolute best long-term move? These aren’t inherently bad inquiries, but they’re rhetorical in the sense that they cannot produce a finite answer. They are deep and important, and yet they lack the beginner’s mind necessary to make decisions easier. Answers to questions like this change given time, mindset, perspective, and collaboration.
So, what, then, is a buyer’s best answer when it comes to the endlessly broad topic of real estate? Often, that best answer comes in asking simpler questions.
Whether you're a first-time homebuyer or an experienced investor, it's essential to approach the process with careful consideration. One of the keys to making an informed decision is asking the simpler questions first. In the complex world of property transactions there is so much clarity to be found. Here are the ten simplest questions you should ask yourself to gain that clarity before you even begin:
- What is my budget, and how much can I afford?
It sounds ridiculously simple. And yet, most people aren’t quite certain of what they truly can spend on a home. Before embarking on your real estate journey, it's crucial to establish your budget. Determine your financial capacity, including your down payment, monthly mortgage payments, property taxes, insurance, and any other related costs. This foundational question will guide you throughout the entire process and help you avoid stretching beyond your means.
- What are my long-term goals?
Consider your long-term goals when purchasing residential real estate. Are you looking for a forever home, an investment property, or something in between? Understanding your objectives will influence the location, size, and features you prioritize during your search.
- What are the local market conditions?
Research the local market conditions to gain insights into pricing trends, inventory levels, and the overall health of the real estate market. This information will give you a better understanding of whether it's a buyer's or seller's market, helping you negotiate more effectively.
- What is the property's condition?
Ask detailed questions about the property's condition, such as age, recent renovations, maintenance history, and any potential issues. If necessary, hire a professional inspector to assess the property thoroughly. Understanding the property's condition will allow you to make an informed decision and estimate any potential future expenses.
- What amenities and services are nearby?
Consider the amenities and services that are essential to your lifestyle. Are you looking for proximity to schools, parks, shopping centers, or public transportation? Evaluate the neighborhood's infrastructure, access to healthcare facilities, recreational options, and other factors that will affect your day-to-day life.
- Are there any zoning restrictions or future development plans?
Inquire about any zoning restrictions or potential developments in the area. This information can impact the property's value and your quality of life in the future. Explore the local municipality's plans for the neighborhood, ensuring they align with your long-term goals.
- What are the utility costs?
Understanding the property's utility costs will help you estimate your monthly expenses accurately. Inquire about average heating, cooling, electricity, and water costs. Energy-efficient homes can save you money in the long run, so consider asking about the property's energy-saving features.
- How long has the property been on the market?
Knowing how long the property has been listed can provide insights into the seller's motivation and potential room for negotiation. If the property has been on the market for an extended period, it may indicate that there are underlying issues, or that the price is too high for the market.
- What is the seller's reason for selling?
While not always disclosed, understanding the seller's motivation can provide you with valuable information. If the seller needs to move quickly or has already purchased another property, they may be more open to negotiation or flexible on terms.
- Who is the best person or team to help me navigate these questions?!
With the right team in your corner, these simple questions become even simpler. Jason Stratton and Sophia Klopas are the geniuses waiting to help you with your head start.
Informed decisions are a pivotal part of life, and real estate is no exception to that truth. Once you choose to get in the driver’s seat of your own decision-making, things can feel equal parts scary and liberating. In any case, you are free. As author Anthony Trollope precisely puts it, “It is a comfortable feeling to know you stand on your own ground. Land is about the only thing that can’t fly away.”
Catch us back here bi-weekly as we bring you curated and Chicago-based real estate content (with a life coach’s twist). Next up: Too Busy for a Spring break? Just take a jaunt instead with Spring Day Trips from Chicago: A New POV, Just a Stone's Throw Away