How to Choose a Home
When you begin searching for a home, you’ll notice a lot of options. Many of them won’t be right for you, but others may fit your needs. You may wonder if there is just one home that’s meant for you or if you can find more than one to be the ideal choice. The process can be confusing and overwhelming unless you begin with the right approach.
Start with the Big Picture
The first step is deciding what matters most. For many, it will be location or proximity to work. For others, it may be about the school district or the price. Before you start focusing on the specific house, you must decide what the most important aspect of the home is to you.
This will be the guiding factor for you as you search through house listings or attend open houses. It’s the one feature you won’t be happy without.
Decide on the Type of Home
One of your first decisions is what type of home you will buy. You have several options, but not all of them will be right for you. You may be flexible and consider one or more, or you may decide only one type will work.
- Single-family home – one home detached on a lot, which may vary in size
- Co-op apartment – instead of renting, you can buy an apartment
- Condominium – you purchase the condo and a percentage of the common areas
- Multi-family dwellings – duplexes, triplexes or other units are owned individually instead of rented
Each option comes with its own set of advantages and disadvantages, and you want to think it through before you decide for or against a type of home.
Consider Age and Condition
You also want to think about the age and condition of a home before you make a decision. If you are handy, you may be willing to work with a fixer-upper and do your own renovations. Someone limited on time and skills may prefer a newer home with fewer issues and repair needs.
A home that needs cosmetic updates often is less expensive than a new home, and it may allow you to afford a larger home or one in a nicer neighborhood. Consider the added expense of making those changes yourself to decide if this option is right for you.
Think About Price
Price will likely be a determining factor in the home you select. You may have to give up some of the things you want to gain other features within your price range. While you can negotiate the selling price, you don’t want to look at homes too far over your budget.
It’s important to get pre-approved for financing so you know exactly what price range you fit in as you look at homes. Don’t waste your time dreaming about a $250,000 house if you can only afford $200,000.
Make a List
Before you go shopping for a home, make a list of everything you want in a house. This list will be your dream home – maybe even one that doesn’t really exist. That’s okay; it allows you to think about everything you want in a home.
Once you’ve created your long list, break it down into must-haves and “nice, but not necessary” items. Be realistic and realize you probably can’t have everything on your list.
How to use your list
Once you have your list of must-haves, prioritize them in order of most important. Then, begin looking for houses that have the top two or three items on this list. You’ll quickly discover that you will have to give in on some of the items on this list even though you think you must have them. As you look at homes and attend open houses, review your list. Decide which items you really can’t budge on and which ones can move to your other list.
When you find a home you want to make your own, you’ll discover it has a few of your must-have items – the ones that really matter, and a couple of extras you’ll appreciate.
Deciding what you want in a home is a complicated task for many buyers, especially first-time home buyers. You may find it changes as you look at more homes. In the end, the process will lead you to the home that’s right for you. While it may not look exactly like you expected in the beginning of your search, it will be the perfect choice for you and your family.