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So you are about to buy a new home! Whether you are a first time buyer or looking to upgrade to another home that better fits your lifestyle, there are a few basics you should consider during this process. If you consider the following tips as a guide, they should help you to successfully find the next home of your dreams.

The first truism to remember is that the three most important factors in buying a home are Location! Location! Location! A bad location will remain a bad location. Don’t be inclined to buy anything, anywhere just because it is new and shiny. When the time comes to sell, it will no longer be brand new and the next buyer will not be as enchanted then as you are today. It will not matter how pretty it is if it is poorly located.

Don't buy beside a major road, or backing up to a dump or commercial property unless you get the property for at least 10% less than a better-located property. You will take a minimum 10% hit when you finally sell. Don't buy a lot on a corner, or backing up to a vacant field. It may not bother you, but it will make it very difficult to resell.

Poor construction will not improve with age. Does the builder have any other existing homes that are at least 10 years old in a comparable price range? Take a look at them. How are they holding up?

In any new home purchase, refrain strenuously from over-building and over-improving. What does that mean? Builders have all kind of options that add drastically to the cost of your home that you will not recover when you resell

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DON'T over-improve your first house. Keep the upgrades within reason and your budget. If in doubt, don't.

DON'T spend thousands of dollars on the "best" carpeting. By the time you sell, the carpeting, any carpeting, will probably need to be replaced. Get decent, not extravagant quality.

DON'T pay for the upgraded "elevation.', Elevation means the outside design of the house. If this a home that will be outgrown, then don't spend money here, there will be no return at resale. The standard will be just fine! People expect to have a front on the house and floor coverings. They will not pay a premium when it's time for resale. Don't pay for It when you buy.

DON'T pay for fancy ceilings or fancy windows. Everyone who comes after you will love them but no one will pay you for them.

DON'T pay for a "premium" lot in a house that you don't plan to spend twenty years in. Especially for a first time home, you have better places to spend your money. It is not at all unusual for a premium lot to add a minimum of 5% to 15% to the price. When it comes time to sell, the premium lot may help your home sell faster, but you seldom get a better price than the house across the street. This is not true for golf course or waterfront locations. Those really are premium lots.

DON'T pay for "custom" wood cabinets. On the other hand, don't take the vinyl. Is there a standard wood pack? Wood can be sanded and refinished. A nick in vinyl and it's gone. Replacing all of the kitchen cabinets will cost more than paying for the standard wood, even if that's a bit more than the vinyl.

DON'T go overboard with upgrading the baths and kitchen You are encouraged to think that no one uses the standard grades. That depends on the standard grades. Take a sample of the standards for tile, flooring or carpet, or a flyer describing the models of appliances, to a home improvement center and compare it. If the standard is not going to last at least five years, then maybe you do want to upgrade a bit, but keep some perspective on it' and try to keep all upgrades way under 5% of sale price. But then again, you may want to question the purchase of a home from a builder who uses lesser quality material as their "standard".

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DO buy the "wood" package. Vinyl doors and cabinets can't be repaired or refinished and cost you more in the long run. Wooden doors and wooden trim are usually worth the money as long as you stick with the basics.

DO install neutral colors for all permanent items like sinks, toilets and tile. This is not the time to be "artsy" or "new and daring." Think beige or neutral gray. It may not be exciting, but it will never be offensive.

DO have another bath done now or at least roughed in if you are going to need it later. It will cost twice as much to start from scratch later.

DO spend money on space rather than bells and whistles.

DO buy better padding for the carpet. Its cheaper than better carpet.

DO ask if the builder is willing to give you a better deal on anything. Occasionally the builder is trying to move a particular house or lot, or his financing, and will give concessions to do so. Never hurts to ask.

DO read the contract thoroughly and ask lots of questions before signing. Never accept a verbal agreement that is not backed up in writing.

DO use a reputable agent or attorney for advice on legal matters. And a Realtor can be a valuable asset. The price is the same, with or without them. You may as well get the help they can provide. A good agent will know who has a good reputation and who doesn't. They will also understand which items will bring you dollars at resale.

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Resale may be a better deal. It all depends on the market. If there is a lot of product for sale in your price range, you may do better on a resale.

Again, think about location first. If the location is poor and you can get the house for 10% to 20% below comparable properties and you like it, it may be a deal. However, you will very likely need to price at the same discount when you go to sell. Paying for a better location is usually a good investment.

To get the best deal on a resale house remember that houses, like clothes, go in and out of style. If there are a lot of a particular type of house on the market and they are slower to sell, you may get a better price. If you have to buy what is "fashionable," you will pay top dollar because everyone else wants it too!

The best house for your money usually needs some cosmetic work. You can also save a lot of dollars if you can see past what most people can't. Many perfectly fine houses with great floor plans, and good construction are simply dirty, need a new paint job, new carpeting or some minor landscaping. They don't sell. If you can do the painting, re-carpeting, cleaning, or tidy up the landscaping, you may be able to stretch your dollars and buy more house. Those things are usually within the budget of a first time home buyer, so keep your mind and your eyes open for such opportunities. Any more than that and you may be talking about a major investment that you probably can't afford.

You may be thinking, "If they aren't clean and tidy, have they maintained the home?" That's what building inspectors are for, to answer that very question. If you are interested in buying a home, paying for a building inspection is always a good idea.

Next, ask about empty fields, or empty lots. What's going in there? Stop by the planning and zoning office for a map. Strike up a conversation with the help and get the inside information as well as the official line. You don't want to move in and find out a major highway will be next door within the year!

Check out neighborhoods that are starting to revive. Most areas have cycles. They start off wonderfully. The population ages, the neighborhood may get slightly tacky. Young people start to buy as the older folks move to warmer climates. Children start playing in the yards and it's ready to come back. Typically, you see room additions, and improved landscaping. That might be a place of growth. Walk the neighborhood, chat with folks.

When buying, watch for trends. Growth follows major highways and train lines. In most towns, west and northwest is where the better neighborhoods develop. There are some major exceptions, but check it out.

How do you look at a house? Start on the outside. Do you like the neighborhood? Does that matter to you? Many people live inside the houses, spend little time in their yard, and never socialize with their neighbors. In that case, the neighborhood has significantly less importance.

Start with the other houses on the street. Are they well maintained? That will affect resale when the time comes. A lot of people buy primarily on curb appeal, and that includes the neighbors! Next look at the condition of the driveway, and sidewalks. Concrete is expensive. Blacktop is more reasonable.

Up to the roof. Any shingles flapping in the breeze? Are the gutters firmly attached? Does the exterior need paint? How much? Trim alone is not too bad. The whole house? If you're not inclined to paint it yourself get an estimate if everything else is right.

When you go inside, try to disregard the furnishing and all decorations. The seller usually takes those things with them! Don’t be swayed by someone else's possessions.

That's one of the reasons that new homes sell so well. They have been professionally decorated, and you think your home will look just like that when you move in!

Before you get hung up in other details, check the floor plan. That's the main thing after structural soundness. Does the house flow for you? Can you imagine living there? If you spend all your time curled up in the family room (or the living room) and it is tiny or has no sunshine, would you be happy there? If you love to cook for lots of people and the kitchen is small, with little storage space, this may not be the house for you!

New or Resale? Do your homework and research first. Then the decision is up to you.

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