I recently started the daunting task of looking for my first home so we are starting a blog series for the soon-to-be inexperienced homeowner. As most of you know, the home buying process can be overwhelming. There are so many things to consider from locations and budgets to financing and renovations. I mean, this is the biggest investment you are ever going to make so you have to love it. Maybe not love it now, but love what it could be. So how am I going to find the perfect house, in the greatest neighborhood, with a huge chef’s kitchen, that needs no work and is in my budget? Chances are, I’m not, so it’s time to get real.
Below is a list of the 5 things you must consider before buying a home. These are important because they allow you to figure out what you can afford, where to look, what to look for and how to get it.
Don’t you hate this word? I know I do. But, it is something that you have to seriously consider when buying a home. Can I afford to be a homeowner? There are several online calculators you can use to help answer this question. Don’t forget that you have to be able to pay the down payment, the closing costs, the monthly mortgage payment (with taxes, private mortgage insurance and home insurance), the utilities, and have money to cover the cost of maintaining the property. Another smart thing to consider is your budget down the road. If you want to have kids, buying the house that maxes out your budget may not be the best solution.
No mortgage, no house. Since I cannot afford to pay cash for my new home, this was a big concern of mine. Shop around for the best deal. Getting pre-approved is the best way you can ensure your ability to get financing. After all, the market is great but the financing is tight. Just be careful, most mortgage companies will approve you for way more than you can truly afford. Once you find the perfect home, you want to be able to stay in it so be realistic about your budget and don’t overextend yourself.
Location, Location, Location
There’s a reason this is an old saying. How many times have you heard, if only I could pick up that house and place it in x neighborhood? Finding a neighborhood that you love is essential. And, it is different for everyone. Some people like being able to walk to coffee shops and restaurants while others dream of a suburban family home at the end of a cul-de-sac. Finding a neighborhood that not only suits your current lifestyle but the lifestyle that you want for the future is important. For me, it is a quiet street, preferably in a good school district, that is a short drive to the essentials- supermarkets, restaurants and, of course, a Target.
Your ‘Must Haves’
It’s time to think about what you absolutely yet realistically cannot live without. Compile a list of the top 5 things you want most in a house. If you are buying with your significant other, try separately making a top 5 list then attempt to compile a combined top 5 list. And, here’s the catch, only look at houses that have these items. For example, my must haves are: good neighborhood, yard with enough space expand if needed, 3+ bedrooms, at least 1,000 sq. ft. in size, and needs no immediate major work.
Walking into a house and being able to see yourself and your personal items in it is essential. Before you fall in love, consider- Does it meet your current/future needs? How long do you intend on living here? How much time and money are you willing to put into the house? When/how soon after moving in do you want to do the work on the house? Do you feel good about spending your money on this? If you still love the house, go for it!
Don’t settle when it comes to the things that are important to you. Be honest with yourself about what you can afford but realize that there’s nothing wrong with keeping your fingers crossed for that chef’s kitchen.
I want to hear from you!
Current homeowners, feel free to comment below with any tips, advice, etc. for all the newbies out there.
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