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How to Find a San Diego Home with the Most Value for Your Money

With incredible beaches and famously sunny weather, San Diego is something of a paradise when it comes to living in the United States. Routinely recognized as one of the best places to live in the entire country, people are drawn to living in San Diego for the city's job market, quality of life, and more.

Considering that it's so desirable to live in San Diego, it's not a big surprise that this is reflected in the value of homes.

If you're shopping for a San Diego home, there's a good chance you're interested in finding the best bang for your buck. How can you find the best possible property for your allotted budget?

Whether you are looking at homes for families, couples, or you're shopping on your own, let's take a look at what you should know about getting the most value for your money in the San Diego real estate market.

Look For a San Diego Home With Good Bones

When investors are looking at properties, they are usually looking at the bones of the house and the location rather than the current aesthetic or superficial state of the home. They understand that walls can be knocked down, porches can be built, and walls can be repainted.

However, it's very easy for people who are shopping for their own personal residence to get tied up in how the home looks. In a competitive real estate market such as the one in San Diego, people who are able to see past superficial or minor flaws will be able to get a better value than those who want a pristinely turn-key property.

You will want to be honest about how much work you are willing to do to a home. For some people, there is a thrill in taking on a big DIY project in exchange for increased home value and an opportunity to truly make it their own. Others might find that they'd rather pay extra for a home with good bones that also excels in the aesthetic and they can start enjoying right away.

(Are you wondering what it takes to turn a property into your dream home? Check out our home renovation guide here.)

The other reason to look at the fundamental structure of the house in order to maximize your value is that a house with good bones will cause you less trouble over the years and be a better investment in the long run. If you buy a house with a foundation problem, you are going to have to shell out the cash to fix the foundation problem. If you choose not to make the repair, then you are faced with the reality of selling a home with a foundation problem somewhere down the line.

At the end of the day, you can renovate your home in any way your heart fancies (so long as it is allowed by your HOA, state building codes, etc.) but you are relying on the bones of the house to be solid.

Really Get to Know the Neighborhood's You're Interested In

There are so many incredible neighborhoods in San Diego to call your new home, some of which are more expensive than others. When you are selecting your neighborhood of choice, start the process by initially being open-minded to places you might not originally consider. Take a look at all the factors that impact what makes a neighborhood ideal or unideal and work to imagine what it would be like for your family to live there.

Once you have a shortlist of neighborhoods you are interested in, it's time to start spending some real time there. Check out the neighborhood at all times of day and walk around. If there is a home you are thinking about making an offer on, drive by it at different times of the day to get a vibe for the ebbs and flows of the neighborhood and street.

Check out the neighborhoods you are thinking about during the normal time of your commute and do a test run. Think about how far away the nearest grocery store is and what the traffic is like getting there.

You can also do some research about the school system, even if you don't have kids. The quality of schools impacts home value in a major way, so this is something to think about. For a single person or a couple, you might choose to get the most bang for your buck by purchasing one of the nicer homes for families in a spot that has a less desirable school system.

On the other hand, you might choose to invest in a home in a better school system with the expectation that it will appreciate more over time.

Basically, to get the most value for your money when you're living in San Diego you will want to work to see things that others don't. While the value of homes often reflects aspects of the neighborhood, there's always the chance that you will see a diamond in the rough where others aren't looking.

Think About the Future

When you are comparing home prices in San Diego, it's important to keep the future and the big picture in mind. If you are looking to get the most value for your dollar when purchasing real estate, you might consider buying your home in a neighborhood that you believe is up and coming.

What this means is that you are essentially making an investment based on the belief that the entire neighborhood will become more desirable over a certain number of years. You will want to make sure that you believe that this process of improvement will occur during the time you plan on living there, of course.

The outcome of this is that you might find that you are living in a neighborhood that you feel is slightly less than ideal right now. However, you believe in its future potential to grow into a more ideal neighborhood for you. Additionally, you believe in the potential for home values to rise in the neighborhood, leaving you in a position to profit when you choose to sell it down the road.

Some of the signs that a neighborhood is up and coming include:

  • The city is beginning to allocate more money towards improving the roads in a neighborhood
  • Landlords are starting to renovate and refurbish older homes
  • Specialty shops and coffee shops are starting to open in the neighborhood
  • There is an influx of cultural activity, such as art galleries opening
  • You notice a mix of more expensive cars and less expensive cars on the streets

If you are choosing to move to a neighborhood that you believe will improve in the future, you will want to research the safety of the neighborhood as well. While it can be great to buy in early before property values rise, it's not worth risking the safety of your family for.

You'll also want to look into potential changes in the neighborhood that could detract from the value of the property in the future. Learn about future development plans in the area and consider whether or not that will impact home value.

Get Pre-Approved For Your Home Loan

The reality is that this real estate market is quite competitive and living in San Diego is very desirable. This means that you aren't the only one out there looking to get the most value for your dollar when it comes to real estate.

An important step, then, to help you be successful in your goal is to get pre-approved for your home loan. There is an important distinction between getting pre-qualified and pre-approved. Getting pre-qualified doesn't mean nearly as much, as getting pre-approved means that a lender has already gone through your finances and informed you of how much money they will lend you.

This will, first of all, ensure that you aren't wasting time and energy looking at homes that you won't actually be able to afford. Secondly, it gives you the opportunity to do some shopping around for the best interest rates and the best deals.

(Are you wondering what you need to know about house hunting in the time of COVID-19? Take a look at this article to learn more.)

You'll want to do your research when it comes to home loans. How much you spend on a house doesn't just have to do with the listing price. You'll also want to think about processing fees, points, or any other hidden costs that might be built into loans you are looking at.

Finally, being pre-approved can make a big difference when you make an offer on a home. When people accept an offer that is made on their house they are at some level gambling that the buyer will follow through with the deal. When they know right from the get-go that obtaining financing won't be an issue for you it can make your offer a lot more appealing to sellers.

Remember You Can Change the House But Not the Location

If you're moving to San Diego and comparing home prices trying to find the best bang for your buck, focusing on the location is key. There is the neighborhood that the home is in, as we've discussed above. However, there is also the particularities of the property that make it more or less desirable to you.

(Are you moving to San Diego and wondering what you need to know? Check out our guide here.)

Are you interested in a home with a view? If that's the case, you might look for homes that need a little TLC but are ideally located for an expansive view. You can always renovate your home, but there's nothing you can do to change its location.

Similarly, what if you find your dream home but it's located across the street from a gas station? If the noise of commerce and people coming and going is going to negatively impact your quality of life and your home's value, it might be better to look for a home that is more ideally located even if it is less perfect as a structure.

Don't Let Your Emotions Get the Best of You

When you're traveling around looking at homes with a real estate agent, it's easy to just outright fall in love with a property. Even though buying a house is a big financial investment for people, it's a mistake to think that they naturally approach the decision from a purely practical standpoint. Emotions play a big part in how people respond to homes, which is exactly why home-staging, curb appeal, and professional photographs are such a big part of real estate marketing.

It's a good idea to be honest with yourself about what it is you actually want and need from your new home. Try to avoid being swayed by things you can easily change like the wall colors or the bathroom vanity. Be self-aware when you are responding emotionally to a home rather than focusing on getting the best value for what you're looking for.

Is It Time For You to Find Your Perfect San Diego Home?

Buying a house can feel overwhelming, stressful, and way too complicated. However, when you're working with the right real estate agent the process can be a breeze. If your goal is to get the most value for your money when you're shopping for a home in San Diego, the agents at Steele San Diego Homes are ready to work to make your dream a reality.

Are you ready to start looking for your San Diego home? At Steele San Diego Homes, we're here to help make the process simple for you. If you're thinking about buying, you can connect with us to start your journey today.

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