“I’m ready for home ownership! At least I’m pretty sure I am. Anything else I need to think about before house hunting?”
Location, location, location: If you don’t enjoy spending an hour in your car or on a commuter train, rule out homes beyond a certain distance from where you work. And as lovely as that Victorian with the charming front porch may be, if it’s half a mile from your closest neighbor and you hate feeling isolated, the Victorian is likely not the right home for you. You may love a home, but the location may not love you back.
Property type: Form and function come together here, and not every home will fit your needs. If your most hated chore is mowing the lawn, don’t pick a house with half an acre of backyard space. If you have kids on a permanent candy-high, you might want that sweeping backyard space instead of an 800 square foot condo. Maybe if you’re the handy type, you won’t mind tackling a few renovations yourself; if you’d rather have a tooth pulled than install new cabinets, look for a home that is move-in ready.
Understand your own budget: Keep your expectations realistic. Looking at a 3,000 square foot home with a koi pond in the backyard isn’t worth your time if you only have the budget for a studio apartment. Similarly, a fixer-upper may seem like a great deal, but if you need to sink $100,000 towards a gut renovation, the total cost may not make sense of you.
Your Neighbors: If you don’t want someone telling you how tall your fence should be and which renovations you’re allowed to do, you might not want a place that’s part of a homeowner’s association or a co-op. If the sight of screaming children makes you want to throw a tantrum, don’t choose a family-oriented neighborhood that throws a bonanza block party twice a year.
If you, like most homeowners, will live in your home for an average of five to seven years, be honest with yourself on what you can or can’t live without. If you created Needs and Wants lists for your wedding, get familiar with the process again for your home- you’ll quickly hone in on your best home options.
This article is 2nd in the Home Buying Basics Series