Tips for Buying a Home in Philadelphia
Before you jump into the real estate market in Philadelphia, you’ll want to spend time educating yourself about the house-hunting process. By understanding the positive attributes of different sections of the city, you can narrow the focus of your search.
Before you jump into the real estate market in Philadelphia, you may want to take some time to educate yourself about the house-hunting process. Understanding the positive attributes of different sections of the city can help you develop certain expectations when you begin your home search. Because the city of Philadelphia and its surrounding suburbs cover a wide-ranging and diverse area, below are a few tips for buying a home to help narrow your focus.
Tour the City and Suburbs
Spend some time driving or walking through Philadelphia’s neighborhoods to get a feel for the individual character of each. Eat in local restaurants and shop in local stores. The city offers many walking and bus tours to help you learn about the city. Asking friends and coworkers who live in and around Philadelphia what they like about their neighborhood can also help you gain an understanding of the real estate market. If you still feel you need help to bring your search into focus, draw a circle on a map around the area you work. The circle should be as wide as the furthest commute you are willing to tolerate. When you begin house hunting, try to stay within this circle.
Determine Why Certain Neighborhoods Are Desirable
Philadelphia’s diverse neighborhoods and the surrounding suburbs all have unique characteristics to offer. Are you looking for good schools? According to a recent Philadelphia Business Journal ranking of the top 25 Pennsylvania school districts, the Unionville-Chadds Ford school district was the top-rated in the area — it nabbed the No. 3 spot overall. If walkability is a priority to you, the Center City area was rated the best. If you would like easy access to transportation, look for houses near SEPTA’s regional rail lines or transportation centers.
Decide What You Can Afford and Obtain a Mortgage Preapproval
Your projected home price range will be based on how much of a down payment you have already saved and the size of the mortgage payment that can comfortably fit into your household budget. Before house hunting, spend some time deciding what you can afford to pay for a house. Your real estate agent can point you towards online financial calculators to assist with housing affordability calculations or recommend a financial adviser if you do not already have one.
Beginning the process with a preapproval letter signals to real estate agents that you are serious about the house-hunting process. Sellers will consider your offer to be stronger as well. A preapproval indicates that you can act quickly if you find a great house at a reasonable price.
Take a Deep Breath and Take the Plunge
One of the best tips for buying a home in Philadelphia to strive for active engagement in the house-hunting process. The best way to get a feel for the Philadelphia real estate market is to get out and look at homes for sale. Once you begin to see what is available in your price range, you can compare and contrast alternative neighborhoods and make an educated decision about which home and which town is right for you. House hunting takes time, but by learning about everything Philadelphia has to offer, you will become more confident in your final home-buying decision.
Photo Source: Morguefile
Jennifer DiGiovanni is a freelance writer and a partner in a real estate investment firm focusing on residential properties. She previously worked in the financial services industry and has earned an MBA from Villanova University. Jennifer enjoys writing about real estate, home improvement and small business.