There is nothing like buying your first home. You gain such a sense of accomplishment when you are finally able to make, what will likely be, the largest investment of your life. As such, there are several things you need to think about when choosing that home. Even if you feel like your first home is not going to be your forever home, there are still important factors to consider when choosing a property for sale.
It’s alright to listen to friends and family when choosing a home, but ultimately; it’s you and your immediate family or friends who will be living there. Don’t be swayed into choosing a home that will ultimately not satisfy you down the road just because your mom or dad tell you it’s the best deal. Do some research and go with your gut.
Let’s talk about some factors to consider when buying your first home.
The three biggest factors when considering buying your new home; location, location, location. You want to purchase a house in the best neighborhood you can afford, but you also must consider it’s proximity to your job, shopping, restaurants, and healthcare. The love your feel for a home you purchased that has great style, neighbors, and amenities will start to dim if you have to commute several hours a day. The goal should be to find a great location that is convenient to where you have to travel everyday.
If you are buying a home with a spouse or partner, you’ll likely need to find a place that splits the difference in terms of where each of you work. It may not seem like a big deal now, but if one spouse only has to commute 15 minutes to work while the other has a 45 minute to an hour commute each way; trust me, someone will eventually not be happy.
You need to find that sweet spot location wise. Great house, great schools, great neighborhood, and great location; don’t compromise on the big factors.
The market will dictate how much house you can get for your money. Your budget will dictate how much you can afford. Before you look at the first house, you need to create a detailed budget. You need to be certain about not just what amount you qualify for, but what amount you can actually, realistically, afford. These are two very different things. On paper, you may have the income to afford up to a certain amount, but you know all of the other things that affect your budget that don’t actually appear in the qualifying paperwork.
If you love designer clothing, expensive vacations, or other pricey accoutrements, this must be factored into your personal assessment of how large a loan you’re willing to take. If you’ve happily been paying $1,200 a month in rent and that allows you to live the lifestyle you want, you need to consider how a $2,500 a month mortgage will impact your life. Just because the bank will approve a huge mortgage; doesn’t mean you should necessarily go with that amount.
Work out your budget and determine a realistic range for the cost of a new home. Tell your realtor to only show you homes within that range. If you look at more expensive homes, you absolutely will be tempted to think extra $25k-$30k is not that much. Trust me. It is.
Before you start your home search, think about how much room you will need; not just for today but in the future. Are you planning on having children? Do you have an elderly parent who will likely need to move in later? Search for a home with this in mind, and choose a home with enough bedrooms to accommodate today’s and future occupants. Do you need a huge walk-in closet? Put it on your list. How many cars will you need to park in a garage? Don’t forget to add these to the list. How many bathrooms do you need? Don’t just think you can get by with fewer; if you need two, buy a home with two. You’ll regret it down the road if you don’t.
The layout can go a long way to help a smaller square footage house seem larger. Choosing a home that doesn’t have “wasted rooms” like a formal dining room can also give you the opportunity to choose a house with smaller square feet, but still the appropriate amount of space. Most homes are priced with a so much per square foot price tag. So opting for fewer square feet can really affect purchase price.
The kitchen is the heart of the home. Even if you are not a gourmet cook today, remember; a home is a lifetime investment. You want to be sure the kitchen is big and functional enough to meet your needs for today and for the future. Quality cabinets cannot be overlooked. You will likely be adding to your kitchenware over time and will need a place to store it. Opt for lots of cabinets and a pantry if possible.
Your counter tops don’t have to be high end to be of good quality. Look for quartz or granite for sturdy surfaces with a manageable price. Go for more neutral cabinetry and counter colors and not what can be considered more on-trend. Replacing those black cabinets for white down the road will be costly. Add the trendy colors with accessories and dish towels. Most importantly; think what’s coming in the future and not just what you need to day.
You may not have considered lighting to be an important element when considering the home you’ll purchase, but having a house with lots of natural light can contribute to your your mental wellbeing. There are studies that suggest natural light can lessen anxiety and help with the feeling of harmony in your home. I love natural light because it actually helps me save on our electric bill. We don’t have turn on lamps or overhead lights until the sun starts to set.
Factor into your purchase price whether or not you’ll need to replace outdated light fixtures or add ceiling fans. Most brand new homes don’t include more than a standard small light fixture in each room. This will be additional cost after you close on your home.
First impressions really do count, and the way a new house looks from the outside can go along way in your purchase decision. If you’re buying a pre-owned home; how does the yard look? Are you going to have to spend large amounts of money to clean landscape beds or get the weeds under control? This isn’t factored into the cost of the home. If you’re buying a new build, is a sodded yard and trees included in the package price?
Adding a sprinkler system, sod, and landscaping can cost over $10k depending on the size of your lot. How about a fenced yard? If you have dogs you will need that fencing and adding a fence to a home can cost thousands as well. You may be able to pare down the houses on your list if they are missing these items. Don’t just assume you’ll be able to get these things added easily or cheaply. You’re just lying to yourself if you do. It’s possible to get so excited about purchasing a home that you’ll not see things exactly as they are.
Is there space in the home you’re considering for storage? How is the attic space? How easily accessible is the attic for storage? Are the closets throughout the house large enough to accommodate items that are not frequently used? Where will your suitcases go? Where will you store your holiday decorations? Ideally, the home you choose will have enough storage areas that you won’t have to continue to rent a separate storage facility. You may need to get creative with the use of storage space that’s available.
If the home itself cannot accommodate all of your storage items, choose a home with a yard large enough to accommodate a storage shed in the back yard. Be sure you check with the homeowner’s association (if there is one) before you buy your home to check for restrictions.
Check to see if the neighborhood your considering has a homeowner’s association. These dues must be factored in when you’re considering your budget. Some will require a monthly payment that can be hundreds of dollars. Others collect yearly. These neighborhoods have stringent restrictions on what you can and cannot do with your property. Check the fees and guidelines of the HOA of any neighborhood your considering. Finding an HOA free neighborhood may be the way to go to have more freedom of decisions for your property.
Buying your first home is a truly momentous occasion. If you explore all of the factors to consider when buying your first home, there will be fewer surprises down the road. Being prepared will make your home buying experience the most exciting time of your life.