Home for the Holidays

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Advice for new couples searching for a new home

By Lisa Beth Miller

Sponsored by Long and Foster Real Estate

The holidays are a busy time, but when you are looking for a new home, finding the right one is at the top of the to-do list! We talked to Peggy Burke, an Associate Broker with Long and Foster Real Estate, about how to navigate through this process.

“Wow. Where do I start? Like you don’t have enough things on your plate to think about; now you have to think about what kind of place each of you would like to call home. There are so many choices, with the first being whether to rent or buy.  I suggest talking to a Realtor and to a loan officer recommended by your Realtor.  Then you can see what you can actually afford. Another factor in that decision will be your credit scores and how much money each of you has earmarked for homebuying” Peggy said.

What you look for in a home will probably be about the same, regardless of whether you decide to rent or buy.  Your Realtor can help you with renting or with buying, but he or she will need some basic guidelines on style and location in order to proceed.

“Style means thinking about what each of you really likes. Is a condo or apartment the right fit? Or are you longing for a single-family home with a big yard?  Some people want to have what they had growing up, and others want just the opposite.  Is being near public transportation important? Do you want to be close or far away from work?  Do you want to live near your parents or siblings or friends? Or do you want to make new friends as a couple? My best advice is to ask coworkers or friends what they like or don’t like about their local neighborhoods,” Peggy added.

When shopping for a home, finances are obviously a subject that couples need to consider.

“A lot of couples say they don’t want to be “house poor,” but in the DC metro area, I look at being “house poor” as forced savings.  At some point when you sell your first place, you will get the money that you may choose to use to help you get into your next place until you end up in your forever home.  Or you may choose to stash what you make into your retirement account or pay for education,” Peggy said.

Other things to consider, according to our expert, include maintenance and utilization of home space.

“You definitely need to think about upkeep and regular maintenance.  Do you know how to cut grass or paint or cook and keep a place habitable? What type of equipment would you need to purchase to facilitate this maintenance?

“Think also about what you might do with extra space.  Do you need a space to work from home? Is internet access good? Is there room for exercise equipment?  Or, if you are used to living with other people, would it be helpful to have a roommate to share some of the expenses?

“I think that, just like everything else, the most important thing to the relationship is strong communication.  It is critical to learn how to compromise and talk things out until you make decisions that are mutually acceptable,” Peggy said.

Ready to talk to a real estate professional about finding your dream home? Peggy is ready to walk you through the process! She is licensed in Virginia and North Carolina, and may be reached by contacting Long and Foster Real Estate, INC / Virginia Realty Partners, 6045 Burke Centre Parkway Burke, VA 22015  or 13875 Hedgewood Drive, Woodbridge VA 22193; brkworks@aol.com or Peggy.Burke@LongandFoster.com 703.819.8388 (cell)

Lisa Beth Miller is a contributing writer for Prince William Living

 

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