When you go shopping for homes this month, remember that it’s easy to fall in love and before you know it, you’re moving into a home that’s too expensive, too big, or too far from your job, family and friends.
Oh, that won’t happen to me, you say. But it can, if you don’t do your homework. Here are a few tips that will keep you on the right path – to the home of your dreams.
Work with a real estate professional. Share your wish list with your Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices network professional, and let them preview homes for you. They know many homes and neighborhoods firsthand. You’re welcome to look at homes online, but avoid homes outside your price range. It’s too easy to get distracted by luxuries, big yards and lots of space.
Shop within your means. One of the best ways to make sure you’re buying the right home is to shop in the price range you can afford. Your lender will give you a price limit that you can comfortably afford based on your income and debts. The right home should allow you to do other things in your life like start a family and save for retirement.
Shop for the right-size home, not the biggest. While conventional wisdom says buy the most home that you can for the money, think about how you actually use a home. One guest room may be plenty, unless you need a home office or you’re planning to add to your family. Also consider maintenance and operating costs.
Think about your lifestyle. Most people buy a home because they want a new lifestyle, and certain types of housing are more conducive. If you’re single or travel a lot, consider a condominium, high-rise or gated community. If you have kids, look for neighborhood amenities, such as playgrounds, bike trails and swimming pools.
Consider daily lifestyle. Appliances, wall colors, and flooring can easily be updated, but traffic flow is harder to change. Is it easy to let the dog outside and clean muddy paws when he comes back in? Where do the kids put their backpacks when they come home from school? Do you have the space you need for your home office or art studio? Are there enough bathrooms for the morning rush?
Be willing to update. Many homes are affordable because they’re older and need work. Cosmetic updates can turn a so-so home into a treasure. Just think of the bragging rights when you show family and friends the kitchen you remodeled or new master suite you added.
The right house may not be the prettiest, biggest or the newest, but it will be the one that best suits the individual and collective needs of your household. When you’re comparing homes, think about your wish list and which home comes closest to meeting your price, number of bedrooms, condition, space, features and the amenities of the neighborhood.
Once you move in, there’s no falling in love like knowing you made the right choice.