Make good choices. How many times have we heard that? Maybe even said it to your kids on occasion (or multiple ones!) Although it was prior to my real estate career, I very well remember my first home. While not a large home, it was custom built because I thought I needed all the bells and whistles. Without a doubt, it was very nice. However I was a single 21 year old and found myself *house poor* and trust me, it was not fun. I couldn't do anything else because I was paying for that darned house. One of the things I enjoy the most these days is causing people to think when it comes to their home purchase; or even their decision to purchase at all. So I put together some questions that you may find helpful.
1. Commute times to and from work - what's the upper limit. Retired? Where are the places you frequent?
2. Schools - Do you have kids in school? Be sure and consider the future grade levels. This would apply to continuing education as well. Is distance to the university or school a major factor? Note: Better schools generally equate to better resale as well.
3. What's most important in your new home - Do you like to cook, entertain? Is a home office or workout room important? Do you have family that visit for extended periods? (The answer to that may depend on how much you like your family LOL)
4. One or two story - If 2 story, master up or down? People seem to have strong opinions about that one. I find most people want the master down in a 2 story. On the other hand if kids are in the plan, you may want bedrooms on one level.
5. How long do you plan on living in this home - This one seems to generate some weird glances sometimes. My intention however, is to understand your long term goals. In life, we know that nothing's guaranteed but do you have some idea? Think about resale.
6. Pool- Yes, no, or if it's there and everything else works, we'll take it. That kind of thing. Remember there are maintenance costs associated with pool ownership.
7. Condition of the home - Move in ready, or you can do some work? And of course work means different things to different people. For example maybe you could do *cosmetics* carpet, paint etc but want to stay away from putting on a new roof right away.
8. Yard size - Want a backyard for the kids? On the flip side, do you hate to mow? Does it matter how the home is situated on the lot? Would it bother you if your single story home is surrounded by two story homes and feels like your neighbors could be looking onto the backyard.
9. Covered patio - Maybe back to the entertaining thing. Or even just for yourselves. Would that be something you'd enjoy.
10. Medical facilities and hospitals - Are proximity to health care a concern for you?
11. Pets - are there special considerations for pets? Most homeowners associations (HOA's) have limits on the number of pets you can have. If this is a factor, be sure and check it out early in the process.
12. Know the true cost of home ownership- It's not just the down payment and closing costs but what are the true costs of home ownership? Have you considered property taxes? These vary WIDELY from town to town and state to state- find out early! How about homeowners insurance? Are you in a coastal area where rates are higher? Consider maintenance costs. Systems wear out, roofs need replacing. Consult with a professional to learn how much to budget and the life expectancy of those items. Consider them in the purchase as well. There's nothing wrong in purchasing a home that will need a new roof- if, if everything else about the home makes sense and is priced accordingly. Have you factored in utilities? Newer homes generally have lower cost for utilities with technology, however they'll typically cost more to purchase.