There’s a lot to consider when buying a house, from the number of bedrooms and bathrooms, to the amount of outdoor space, to local amenities and neighborhood safety.
So how do you prioritize everything and decide which home is right for you?
Obviously, you need to choose a home within your price range. And it should have a monthly mortgage payment you’re comfortable with. That’s why, for most buyers, the home’s price tag is a make-or-break consideration.
In a highly competitive market where bidding wars are common and properties get claimed within days or even hours, you should be prepared to negotiate. But don’t break the bank on what you can ultimately afford.
Location, location, location
You’ve probably heard it before. But the most important things to keep in mind when house hunting are location, location, location. Location is the one thing about your home that you cannot change, and therefore should be the single most important decision you make when buying a home.
First-time buyers often get tricked into purchasing a home that backs up to a busy street or has power lines overhead because the home has a lower-priced tag. Sometimes these homes will look nicer than others that you walk through, but it can be hard for a first-time buyer to see through this if they’re not working with an expert.
Taxes and cost of living
Your location can also make a big impact on what you’ll pay in taxes and other living expenses. Investigate what you’ll likely pay in:
- Property taxes
- Sales taxes at local stores
- Homeowners and automobile insurance
- Utility bills
A home on a large plot of land, for instance, will likely have higher property taxes than one with a small backyard. And homes in a danger-prone area — like a flood zone — can be very expensive to insure.
All these added costs will increase your monthly housing bill and your overall cost of living. So take some time to compare expenses if you’re considering homes in multiple locations.
Home style and size
You want to be content with the layout and square footage of the home you choose. Remember that your needs may change as your household grows, and if or when family members are added, so carefully consider short- and long-term size needs as well as the practicality of the floor plan. You need to make sure the house has enough room and a footprint that allows for expansion,
Amenities inside and around the home matter a lot, too — from the type of flooring and quality of kitchen appliances to the lighting fixtures, bathroom finishes, and backyard features.
Try to focus on expensive features that would be harder for you to add on your own after purchasing.
Amenities that can be easily changed or replaced, on the other hand, shouldn’t be the main driver behind your home purchase.
About Danielle Verboski