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Columbus Ohio Real Estate Shopping

What To Look For

Choosing a place to live can be one of the most exhilarating experiences of a lifetime. We've learned through the many home seekers we have helped that the best approach is to be prepared. Literally, to do some homework. Your move can be an improvement if you duplicate what you like in your present community and avoid what you dislike.

House Hunting Begins At Home

The search can begin in your present home so we've developed some questions to stimulate your thinking and help you identify your needs and preferences. Once you have clarified what you like in your present community, you will have a better idea of what you want to find. Plus, you will be able to express your preferences clearly to your Clifford-Realtors Associate who can help you find it.

One hint to keep in mind as you go house hunting is an old wisdom: "The best time to think about selling your house is when you're buying it." In other words what appeals to you as a buyer today will probably also appeal (of what turns you off will be a turn off) to buyers tomorrow. A careful house hunter will benefit years from now when its time to sell to an equally value-conscious buyer. Build your buyers savvy by reading classifieds and homes-for-sale magazines, and also visiting open houses. 

County and City Questions

Would you characterize your present area as urban, suburban, semi-rural or rural? Is the population density low, medium or high? Is the population decreasing, stable, or increasing?

What natural features are the most significant? Woods? Hills? Flat land? Rivers? Ocean shore? Man made lakes? Streams and Ponds?

How do you commute to work? Do you walk? Drive? Car pool? Taxi? Bus? Train? How far must you travel and how long does it take morning and evening? Do you use available public transportation for local trips or to visit close by communities? Can someone reach your home by public transportation?

Where do you do your shopping?,
Central commercial districts? Shopping malls? Supermarket clusters? Community shop or home delivery? Imagine a list of typical shopping in one week...how many miles and how much time would visiting the entire list require?

What type of schools does your family attend now?
From grade school to graduate school, and from day care needs to special vocational training what facilities will you require in the next few years? Are there any special needs or plans? although it's extremely difficult to compare quality of education...especially when the most important ingredient is the relationship between teacher and student...some statistical indicators can be helpful. Average class size at grade level. Comparative standardized test scores. Average salary of teachers. Percentage of high school graduates who go to college.

What does the area offer for recreation and entertainment?
Music? Movies? and live stage? Sports arenas? Museums? Nightlife? What types of indoor and outdoor sports facilities are available? Are there public parks, country clubs, athletic clubs, fraternal groups? Do you require any special facilities?

Choosing A Neighborhood

After you take stock of the larger view of the country and city, this section helps you zero in on your neighborhood preferences. In real estate an old maxim says there are three criteria that determine market value "Location, location, location."

The concept of neighborhood isn't as precise a county or city. Some people consider the boundaries to be the district around a grade school. Others consider it "walking distance," more or less a half mile walking distance. Wherever you draw the line, a neighborhood is the area around your house.

People Services

Every neighborhood can be described from three standpoints; its people (your future neighbors), what it looks like, and where its services are located. Yet any neighborhood description is highly subjective, which brings up another observation from our experience.

No matter how much hard data one gathers about a neighborhood, nothing compares with information that local people provide. Whether its fellow workers, letter carriers, or people at a bus stop...neighbors are the best observers of a neighborhood. Talk to as many people as you can and ask them the following questions.

Neighborhood Questions

Do neighbors socialize regularly, or hold block parties, picnics, holiday parties, organize sports teams? What are the ways they have met their neighbors? Walking a dog, commuting, PTA, parties, little league, gardening?

What types of dwellings? condominiums, multi family structures, single family houses, mobile homes? How much do the neighbors care for lawns and gardens? Are the houses maintained "like new," adequately, poorly? Is there a Home Owner's Association?

Are Cars Parked mostly in the garages, driveways, in the street? How old are the houses? More than 30 years old? 15 to 30 years? New? How far apart are the houses? Are property upgrades common? Swimming pools, tennis courts, fences, walls, patios, extensive landscaping?

For convenience, how does the neighborhood rate? Can you walk to shopping or is a car necessary? List your five most frequent destinations. Are they clustered in one stop-and- shop location? Two stops? How much time is required for fire, police or ambulance services to arrive in an emergency? How close are cultural centers, parks, restaurants, theaters, play grounds?

How do the children routinely reach their schools, play areas, friends' homes? By walking, bicycle, bus, or do parents drive them? Is public transportation available for commuting or shopping? Do any local ordinances affect pets, parking, lawn, etc.?

What are the disadvantages of the neighborhood? Freeway, railroad, or airplane noise? Factory pollution, heavy traffic, exposure to heavy storms, possible flooding?

Choosing A House

We've saved the best for last. In many ways home finding is easier than choosing a country and a neighborhood, because you are considering tangible details. Yet our experience suggests that many people "decide" with emotion, and "justify" with facts. This section will help you strike a better balance.

First, one should realize that thousands of houses are sold in the area every year. Inspecting the thousands of houses on the market is obviously impossible. But you can turn this overwhelming selection to your advantage. If you can clearly describe the features you require, your Clifford-Realtors sales associate can make a preliminary screening for you. After you select the best houses, you can concentrate on inspecting your top choices. The key is knowing what you need.

House Questions?

How many people will be living in the house? Do you prefer a new or resale home? What is your preferred housing style? Townhouse, Colonial, Contemporary, Split Level, Split Foyer, Cape Cod, Rambler, or something else?

How many total rooms do you need? Bedrooms, bathrooms? How strongly do you require features as; separate living area, dining room, laundry room, basement or attic, family room, fireplace, workshop area, garage? How much property do you require? Do you have preferences for any particular natural features?

House Hunting

Many of our customers find it helpful to keep a record of the houses they inspect. A notebook is helpful with pages large enough to record vital information, as well as hold sample pictures of attractive homes and neighborhoods or clipped advertisements.

Financial Details

Is the asking price comparable to other houses in the neighborhood? Higher or lower? However, when carefully comparing properties be sure to take into account unique features and improvements that vary house to house, and consult your Clifford Realtor Associate who can provide a market comparative analysis.

Is the existing mortgage assumable? Required down payment? What financing method is acceptable to the seller?

What are the annual property taxes? Will the taxes increase with the transfer of deed and a new market price? Any local assessments?

Physical Details

Outside address of property? House style? Lot size? Landscaping details? Degree of grounds maintenance required? Age of house? Structural condition? Are any major repairs or improvements necessary? Maintenance of building?

Inside make a sketch of floor plans. Total number of rooms and baths on each floor? Any extras such as intercom, fireplaces, phone jacks? Built-in appliances; dishwasher, garbage disposal, trash compactor? Adequate storage space?

Construction inspect quality of materials, present condition, craftsmanship both inside and outside. Insulation? Weather stripping or storm windows?

Major Systems plumbing, electrical, heating and cooling. What type of fuel does the heating system use? Approximate annual cost? A professional inspection of the major systems is recommended for a house that you are interested in purchasing.

Computerized House Hunting

At any moment a complete description of homes you would like to visit is available through the Multiple Listing Service system through a Clifford Realtor Associate. Here's how it works.

When a house is listed for sale by any area broker, the homes vital statistics are fed into the computer: the lot size, the age and kind of home (condo, townhouse, single family) style (colonial, contemporary, cape cod, etc.) material (brick, stone, wood): the number, size and use of rooms (4 bedrooms, 2 1/2 baths, kitchen, living and dining rooms, family room, finished basement and attic, foyer, utility room, garage).

Also included are features (fireplace, walk-out deck, patio, wooded lot); equipment (stove, dishwasher, carpeting, etc.) the heating and/or cooling systems; the water and sewage systems; the annual taxes; the mortgage balance, monthly payments, and the amount of cash a buyer would need to assume the existing mortgage (if its assumable), or the amount of cash required if the seller offers to take a second mortgage; and, finally, the price.

Finger Tip Home Search

A buyers requirements can be fed into the computer by a Clifford Realtors Associate: Particular neighborhoods; styles of homes; the number and kinds of rooms, and the price range. In minutes the computer makes a quick search among the houses listed, and prints out all the houses that meet the buyers criteria.

The computer also helps buyers determine which home sellers will offer seller financing. It can calculate the amount of mortgage payments and various interest rates, under various financing plans. It can also help evaluate the investment and the financing that is right for the buyer. Plus, it's updated each morning as hundreds of houses enter and leave the market. In short, it's the only way a buyer can check out almost everything that's (out there).

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