Ask yourself: Do you need to be near public transportation? Do you want a yard? Do you need to be within a certain distance from your job? What do you want from your community? The answers to your questions will guide you home.
Where do you want to live?
You’ve probably heard the first rule of real estate — location, location, location. It's a key factor in determining how much you can afford, how long your commute will be and your designated school district. When determining where you want to live, ask yourself:
Urban or Suburban: Do you want the convenience and walkability of city life? Or do you want a larger home with a yard, away from the hustle and bustle of urban living?
Proximity to your job: Today's average commute is longer than ever before. Are you willing to make an hour-long drive to work, or do you want a short commute? Consider your current job and future opportunities.
Access to Public Transportation: Do you need access to public transportation to get to and from work, school or your primary health care provider?
What type of home is best for you?
If you're in the market to buy, you need to decide what type of home you want. Each type has its advantages and disadvantages and the right one for you will depend on your finances, lifestyle and stage of life.
Single-Family: Typically, these are the largest of the property types – providing you with the most privacy and space. If you buy a single-family home, you're responsible for every aspect of the home which requires both time and money but allows you more control over your home and more privacy.
Townhomes: Townhomes are often a good option for first-time homebuyers as they are more affordable than single family homes. They require little outside maintenance and many townhomes include amenities such as parks and playgrounds.
Manufactured Homes: Today's new generation of high-quality factory-built homes are comparable to single-family homes and offer features such as garages, permanent foundations and built-in porches. More affordable than site-built homes, they offer a good option for first-time homebuyers.
Condominiums: Condominiums can provide you with a maintenance-free lifestyle and are typically located in urban settings. They may provide access to amenities like pools and fitness facilities and are usually within walking distance of shops, restaurants, and public transportation. Note that the amenities and maintenance come with a monthly fee that you’ll need to factor in when determining what you can afford.
Your home wish list
Once you decide what type of home you want, you should determine your "must-haves" and your deal breakers. Think about your household now and how your needs may change in the future. It is easy to get overwhelmed with so many possibilities so consider creating a homebuying wish list to help you narrow down your choices.
Both your finances and lifestyle will play a big role in determining the type of home that's right for you. Stick with the “must haves” that are most important to you and work with your lender to stay within budget.
Tools & Resources
Calculator: Rent vs. Buy
Understand the financial differences between renting and owning a home.
Video: Budgeting for your home
These four things largely determine how much home you can afford.
CreditSmart: Module 11: Becoming a Homeowner
Get practical information on how to prepare to obtain a mortgage and own a home.