House hunting can be extremely exciting, but also very stressful, so before you dive in take some time to make sure you’re ready for the plunge! When you start looking at houses, it’s easy to fall in love with quite a few, and sometimes if you don’t know exactly what your needs are, well, you can end up making sacrifices at the moment that you really aren’t prepared to handle in the future.
For example, convincing yourself that you won’t mind an hour commute or that you can come up with an extra few hundred dollars a month to afford the house of your dreams might become major regrets down the road. Therefore, there are a few things that you should know about your future home before you start your search so that you stay grounded. Before you search, take some time to answer these five questions to keep your house hunt as productive as possible!
Do You Know What to Expect? Before you decide to make the very BIG decision to buy a home, honestly ask yourself if you have considered everything that buying a home will entail. Sometimes, especially first-time buyers, only look at the mortgage payment. However, there are a lot more costs associated with buying a home, both upfront and long term.
Make sure you have considered closing costs, moving costs, and the other expenses like additional furniture and decor that are associated with the initial purchase of your new home. Then, there are the long term costs like homeowner’s insurance, property taxes, and maintenance to consider. If you are making the move from an apartment or condo, don’t forget that all of the repairs and issues that pop-up in your new home will be completely your responsibility to fix. The general rule of thumb is to set aside approximately 1% of your home’s value per year for maintenance costs.
What Can You Afford? Even if you have carefully considered all of the additional expenses that come along with homeownership, it still can become very tempting to spend a little bit more in the beginning when you find that “dream house.” This is especially true when you break that higher list price down over a 30-year mortgage. A couple of hundred extra bucks a month might seem completely doable to you if it means getting the perfect home, but take a moment to think objectively and put yourself into your future self’s shoes.
What are you willing to give up for that extra two hundred? How much more will you spend on property taxes and insurance for this house? If it’s larger than other homes you have looked at, then that also means higher utility bills and more maintenance. Once you add up all of these extra costs, consider if you can still afford it. You don’t want to end up house poor.
Is This Your Five Year House or Your Forever Home? This is a BIG question that you need to answer before your search. If you are looking for a small starter home and only expect to be in it for several years, then you can make more compromises on your wants list. If you plan for this home to be your forever home, however, you need to be a bit more firm when it comes to things like location. You can change the design, landscaping, size, and more, but you will never be able to change your home’s location unless you move. If you are shopping for your forever home, make sure that you find a home that is in the neighborhood you love; you can always make the house exactly how you want it over time.
Are You Sold on the Location? Speaking of location, even if you don’t plan for a home to be your forever castle, you still need to strongly consider where it is located. Five years is still a long time to put up with an extra hour-long commute every morning or to live right behind train tracks, or next to a busy airport. Before you sign, be honest with yourself about whether you can really live with the location.
Also, take into account the location of your home in relation to the homes around it. Those homes are likely not going anywhere, so if you realize that the neighbors can see perfectly into your backyard from their second-story window, and having a private backyard retreat is important to you, that’s something to consider. Likewise, if your house sits lower than the houses on either side, what’s going to happen when it rains? Basically, don’t let your heart trump your head when it comes to location, and you’ll find that your home will be easier to live in, and to sell -- when that time comes.
What’s Your Lifestyle Like? You may have dreams of a cute cottage with a sprawling backyard and lush green front lawn, but if you are super busy and yard work is not in your future, then that vision of your home might not mesh with your reality. Of course, you can always hire a landscape service, but then you will need to factor that cost into your home search.
If you are completely against cleaning and you don’t like a lot of stuff, then why would you want a huge house? On the other hand, if you have five kids and your closets are already busting at the seams, you might not be ready to downsize just yet. It’s important to consider your day-to-day routines and lifestyle as you shop for your future home.
Knowing the answers to these questions can help make the harder decisions that you will face while house hunting a little easier. Once you’re ready to begin your hunt, our team is always ready to offer a helping hand!