Our family is looking forward to the annual Great Backyard Bird Count, coming up across the globe, February 16-19, 2018. We were reminded about it in this month’s issue of Flint Energy’s Georgia Magazine. This annual event has been around since 1998, when it was founded by members of the Cornell University Ornithology Lab and the National Audubon Society. The backyard bird project is free and fun: you count the number and types of birds that visit your yard for a 15-minute timespan during the designated weekend, and record your findings at www.gbbc.birdcount.org. Experts recommend visiting the website early to create a free account, and download the bird checklist for your postal code. There are even user-friendly apps you can download to your phone. We were pleased to see Georgia ranked #12 in the US for participation in the bird-counting event!
Just like we are watching to see how many birds will visit our own backyard, we are seeing more and more signs of spring blossom in the central Georgia real estate market. As the days get a little longer and the weather turns a little nicer, people begin to think about spring cleaning, and beautifying their lives. For some, this means getting their home ready for selling. For others, this means driving around neighborhoods to see what is available to buy.
However, unless you will be paying cash, the very first step before doing any serious home-shopping is to get pre-approved for a loan. You don’t want to find your dream house, only to discover you can’t afford it. Acknowledge and understand your budget, and stick with it.
When considering the price of a home, it’s easy to get caught up in the interior colors, exterior curb appeal, and overall square footage. While those are important factors, we suggest looking deeper to make sure you get the home you that will best suit your current way of life.
- Practical: Remember, the bigger the home, the taller the ceilings, the higher your power bills may be. A larger house costs more to heat and cool. A larger home may also require more furniture. Little and big expenses add up!
- Floorplan: When looking at homes, consider the floorplan first and foremost. Countertops and paint can all be changed, but floorplans are expensive (or nearly impossible!) to change. Look for a floorplan that fits your lifestyle.
- Your Own Life, not your neighbor/friend/competitor lifestyle: You may want a home with a beautiful, exclusive view, but if you are rarely at home, then this feature may be wasted. Consider a home for how you live your life right now, not just the life you dream of having in the future.
- Non-negotiables: Take the time to create a list of features that your next home absolutely must have. For some, it may be an attached garage, or a quiet neighborhood with sidewalks, or an open kitchen. Make sure to share this list with your Realtor!
- Gut instinct: As the market continues to heat up, competition will increase for existing houses. You don’t want to miss out because you waited too long to get pre-approved for a loan. Typically, clients are advised to sleep and pray on making an offer on the right house, but if the market is really hot, you should be prepared to make a faster decision. Really ask yourself if you would be devastated if you lost the house to another buyer. If you answer yes, then go ahead and make a bid. As with many things in life, if you listen carefully to your heart, you will usually make a good decision.
And lastly, consider your first impressions of a home. Having shown hundreds of buyers hundreds of houses over the years, nearly all of them form an impression of a home within the first few seconds. Is it a happy house with possibilities, or does it make you depressed or anxious? Consider your responses, and, just like the birds flocking to your backyard this Spring, trust your instinct.
We thank our many clients who partner with us to buy and sell their homes, and appreciate your willingness to refer your friends and family to us this spring. We invite you to follow us on Facebook and Instagram!
Here’s to health, home, and happiness!