The Coronavirus pandemic is a very serious, unprecedented reality that the entire world is dealing with. While Illinois has reopened into Phase 4, many people are feeling very anxious at the prospect of doing things that used to be normal or routine, such as house hunting. Searching for a new home has become a scary prospect for many people who don’t want to go into public spaces. How can you get a good idea of the right home for your family without seeing it in person?
We want to encourage you to take a deep breath…let us bring you back to that place of excitement when you first realized you were finally ready and able to buy your first home! Remember the joy you felt when you first started imagining having a garden in your own backyard. That happy feeling of imagining having more space to invite friends and family over. The possibility of extending your family and building a nursery. When planning to start a family, it’s important to choose a home in a neighborhood with quality school districts, safe parks, and welcoming community centers. Let us help you make this vision a reality – yes, even during COVID-19. How? By creating a “New Home Wish List”.
Let’s begin by appreciating the wonderful world wide web! Even though you may feel limited to your home and a few essential places, that doesn’t mean you can’t still find what you are looking for from home. Expand your home search by using the internet as your guide. Many local real estate agents are making themselves readily available via zoom or other video applications.
“Video-chat tours are not only a great way to minimize contact with others during the current crisis, but also a cost-effective way to see homes across town or in a different city. Homebuyers and sellers are becoming more comfortable with this technology, which may remain a popular way to view homes once the coronavirus pandemic comes to an end, especially given many Americans may need to relocate to find work.” Redfin
A Guide for Creating your New Home Wish List…
Be Honest About Your Likes and Dislikes: Make a list of all the things you wish you could change about your current living environment. On the other side of that list, make a list of things you love about your current residence. This list will give you perspective on what you really desire in a home. For example: If you write that you hate shoveling snow or mowing the lawn, this might mean you should choose a condo or townhouse that has a homeowners association. Generally homeowners associations have professionals handle such things. Or you can still buy the home you want but plan a budget for hiring landscapers, this will leave you stress free about outdoor work. “A dream home is more about fulfilling wishes than meeting needs. Don’t be afraid to make a sizable wish list.” Freshome
Even if you feel like some of the things you desire are a bit “out there” or even impossible, write it down! You may be pleasantly surprised to find some of your wishes already exist in some houses. Be fearless and enjoy every minute, don’t forget you are searching for your forever home! Quick Tip: This checklist may be helpful!
Decide When is the Ideal Time to Move: Did you know that home prices decrease during the winter? Even though it doesn’t sound ideal moving in the winter, it might save your bank account! Give your local real estate agent a call about prime buying and selling times in the neighborhood you’re interested in.
“There will generally be fewer buyers during the winter months because not as many people are willing to go house hunting in bad weather. This means less competition. Thus, the chances of running into multiple offers on a single property will be greatly reduced. So if you’re looking to lock down your next dream home – or simply invest in some new property – the winter can be a prime time to do so.” The Spruce. Quick Tip: Check out our “Top Ten Tips for a Successful Move” blog!
Let’s Talk About Neighborhoods: What’s your current neighborhood missing? Do your children need a more dependable school district? Would you like to be close to a local farmer’s market? A home having enough bedrooms for the whole family is good, but not great if the home is located in a school district with a poor rating or lack of schools in general. Hence why making a portion of your list dedicated neighborhoods is important. Check out this ranking of Illinois suburbs to consider!
Your ideal desired neighborhood should have low crime rates, be financially affordable, and filled with people you can potentially become friends with – or at least trust to feed your cat while you’re away. The age of your family also plays a huge role in choosing a neighborhood. You may want to consider if your future neighbors have families with children in the same age group, access to playgrounds, a quality school district, and so much more. Quick Tip: Use our guide to finding the right neighborhood!
Decide on a Realistic Budget: Even if you can get approved for a sizable loan and it exceeds the amount you originally thought you’d receive, purchasing a home on a max loan amount can cause critical financial issues in the future. Homeowners who purchase homes that have no financial wiggle room tend to be highly stressed because every cent in their bank account goes directly to their mortgage every month. This type of pressure can cause anxiety, anger, and possibly lead to missed payments – or worse – loss of property! Sticking to your budget is a key factor in setting your family up for a great quality of life within your means.
“Always plan to use savings and investments to get you through emergencies, pay for a home improvement project, or fund your retirement. And, as long as you’re conservative in how much house you buy, you should have plenty of money left over to fund those accounts!” Money Under 30. Quick tip: Have a professional (an accountant or mortgage broker) run the numbers on your finances.
How Much Space Does Your Family Need: Knowing how much space your family actually needs will help you determine just “how much house” is right for you. Review your current number of bedrooms, bathrooms and living room space. Do you often feel like your home is cluttered? Or crowded when guests are over? Are you planning for a baby and need to prepare for a nursery and toys everywhere?
It is very on trend to find ways to maximize space. Maybe all your family needs is storage space or a place specifically for working out. Add a basement and an attic to your wish list. These sometimes overlooked spaces could potentially be your future at home gym, meditation room, or even a serve as a guest bedroom!
Bonus: Use Pinterest and Houzz for inspiration and wish list organization! Pinterest and Houzz are both great social media platforms for designers, architects and homeowners to get ideas. Create themed boards, organize ideabooks, and find products for home design. This is a fun way to see “what’s out there” and find what type of home aesthetic you like. This way, once you do find your new home, you already know what decor and paint colors you want. Here’s an example of a home wish list board on Pinterest detailed by decor, furniture, materials, and colors! On Houzz, you can take tours of homes to get a feel for what you like. Learn more about ideal home style here!