Buying? How to choose your home
How to Choose Your New Home
How to choose your home
What do you see when you imagine your dream home? Is it just like the homes you see on the TV or read about in magazines? Having a wish list is great but it has to be grounded in reality. When you are looking at buying a home you need to be looking at the essentials – all the things that will fit in well with your lifestyle; once you have made a list of priorities you can use that as the basis for starting to search for your perfect home. Here are some of the top priorities when you want home buying to become reality:
The first thing you need to establish is how much you can afford to spend on buying your home. Getting a good mortgage will depend on several things; your income, your debt, and how much you can afford to set aside for the down payment. Looking at your budget also means you can focus on the homes you can buy and not waste time looking at the ones that are too expensive.
The Home You Want
Homes fall into many different types but the four main categories you will see are:
Detached family home – This is a single-family home that stands apart from other properties, therefore, you will not share a wall with anyone else. The home will sit in a separate piece of land. This choice gives you maximum independence and privacy but it also means that there is no shared responsibility for maintenance and repairs.
Townhouses – This is a single dwelling, the difference being that you will share at least one of the walls with a neighbor. This will mean a little less privacy but on the plus side you share responsibility, and cost, of maintaining common walls, boundaries, etc. Co-ops – with this option you will become a shareholder in a company and it is that company that owns the building. The residents will vote on all the key decisions that affect the building to make sure everyone pays their dues and that bills associated with maintenance and repair are paid.
Condominiums – There are different types of condo but the thing they all have in common is that each homeowner buys the interior of their unit plus a stake in the building. Owners then pay into a homeowners association and they take over the maintenance of the building and the care of all the common areas.
What about the community?
When you buy a home you are not just buying bricks and mortar, you are also looking for the place where you are going to live, often for a significant amount of time. When you move into a home you are also moving into a community so what happens in the neighborhood bears a direct relationship to your lifestyle. Of course, the property must be something you can afford but how are you going to decide if it is in the right community? A neighborhood can also impact how much your home is worth when you come to sell so this is an important consideration.
Checking on websites like Reacasa can help. They have a neighborhood section that provides scores to show how far the nearest store is and how well the area is served by public transport, schools, and other amenities. This can point you in the right direction but gut feeling is also very useful. Moreover, on reacasa you can find out how far is your new home from work, with multiple stops on the way to give you estimate for commute time.
Take some time out to go to the neighborhood at different times of the day and different days of the week. A street that is quiet at 2 pm on a Sunday, may well be exactly the opposite at 1 am on Saturday. Have a look around, try out the commute times, sit in a coffee shop and chat to the locals and grab a local paper. Often someone in the neighborhood writes a useful blog so it is also good to look for these online.
Even if you don’t have children now it is worthwhile taking a look a the situation regarding school quality in the area. Check sites like GreatSchools which give home buyers a good look at the nearby schools. Even if you never intend to have children good schools can often be an insight into the community, so look at test scores, out of school clubs and other activities, student population and so on. A good school system can be a good point when you come to sell your home at a later date.
Size and layout
What are you looking for? Something cozy or a huge property? The size of a home is directly related to how much it is going to cost so think about how much you need that extra bathroom or bedroom. When looking at listings there is always a cost/square foot listed to help you understand the size of the property compared to cost.
Take a look at your family’s needs – do you need a huge yard? How essential is parking or a garage? Are you looking for an urban, country or ocean setting? Things like community center access is a factor if you are keen on swimming but don’t want to buy a home with a private pool. Take a look at what your must-haves are and then discuss what trade-offs are available. If you need a basement rec-room could it double up as a guest room? Can children share a room or do they need their own space? Knowing what you want is one thing, but it is knowing what you need that will help your Realtor find you the best possible home for your budget.
Are you willing/able to renovate?
Some homes need a little TLC before they can become your dream home and that will mean time and money. If you can’t face the idea then perhaps looking at newer homes is a higher priority for you. However, if you can tolerate the idea of renovation you could grab a bargain. Make sure you know where you stand before you start setting about buying a home.