Before you attend your first open house, take some time to imagine your ideal home. Follow these steps to match your dreams with reality once you hit the homebuying market.
Research Your Ideal Location
You’ve heard it before: location, location, location. Before deciding anything else about what your future home will look like, you need to decide where you will live.
The location you choose will determine several key factors of your new home and life worth considering:
- Education and health care: A good, local school system is often a priority for families who have or plan to have children. Additionally, access to hospitals is critical in case of emergency. Make sure the area you’re looking in has what you and your family need.
- Safety: Information about crime rates and other safety factors are often made available to the public. A quick search can help you feel more secure in your new home.
- Commute and public transportation: Consider your commute to work, if you’re not working remote full time, and your options for transportation. Does your neighborhood have sufficient public transportation options such as buses, a subway or trains? Or do you need a car and adequate parking?
- Quality of life: When you buy a home, you are also committing to live in the surrounding community. Before you buy, spend a day exploring your future neighborhood. Find out what’s in walking distance, understand the transit routes and visit local businesses you might frequent.
Calculate Your Price Range
After location, cost is one of the most important criteria in the homebuying process. Understanding what you can afford helps narrow your focus and minimize stress. You'll want to work closely with your lender to determine what you can comfortably afford.
To determine the affordability of a neighborhood, review:
- Average rents.
- Home prices.
- Property taxes.
- Overall cost of living in the location where you intend to live.
Determine a Size and Layout
Your options are plentiful when it comes to the size and layout of potential homes, and each comes with positives and negatives. Explore your home type options to decide which one is best for you.
Before buying a home, you should consider how long you plan to live there and how your needs might change over the years. Think about whether you might need an extra bedroom or two for a family down the road. At the same time, it’s best practice to be mindful of your budget and how much space you can afford.
Identify Your Nonnegotiables
A homebuying wish list can help you identify and prioritize what you need, versus what you want, in a future home. Categories on your wish list may include:
- Property condition.
Once you’ve determined your wish list, you can easily check against it to keep yourself on track while you look for homes in person and online.
Consider Resale Value
There will likely come a time when you decide to sell your home. If this isn't your forever home, it's important to consider what features will appeal to future buyers.
Here are some things to consider that can impact the resale value of a home:
- Amenities: To determine if a home is lacking something significant, compare it with other homes in the neighborhood. For example, if all the homes on your street have a garage but yours doesn't, it may not sell for as much as others.
- Outdated: If your home requires work when you list it, it may take longer for the home to sell or you may need to lower your price expectations.
- Specialized style: Nontraditional homes don't appeal to everyone. Take note if your home is comparable in size and style to the other homes in the neighborhood.
Ask your agent about market conditions and whether the property would be easy to sell in the future.