When you are planning a move, whether it be to a new city or a new home… whether it be your first or last home… it is easy to get so busy defining what you want that you forget about what you don't want, which can be just as important! That is one of the reasons it is so important to get out and actually see properties and neighborhoods as a reality check as you define your priorities. Places may look great online, but actually seeing them in person can sometimes also make you realize what you don't want… both in a home and a community.
What you do and don't want is different for everyone, but don't forget to take into account not only what you see but also what you hear and smell. Here are just a few examples…
- How do you feel about airplane or traffic noise? Does it make a difference what times of day and night you are home?
- If you live near a restaurant or bakery or brew house, will the smells and sounds entice or annoy you?
- If you want to avoid stairs, don't forget to think about how you will get into the home
- If you love the charm of old homes, don't forget about all the work and potential cost involved in maintaining an older home
Here are some factors to help you define what you DO want…
1. LIFESTYLE GOALS
- Do you want to be close to work, recreation, shopping, restaurants and coffee shops, schools? Within walking distance? biking distance? near public transportation? or are you comfortable with driving so these things don't matter?
- Do prefer the activity of an urban lifestyle or a suburban lifestyle with more privacy and wide open spaces?
- Do you want move-in ready or do you like doing renovations/updates to make it your own? What about ongoing maintenance… do you enjoy working on projects around the home or not?
- Don't choose a condo or townhouse instead of a house simply because of snow and lawn care, you can hire that done at a house just as an association does for a condo or townhouse. But do you like the security of having someone else caring for everything outside your living space… giving you freedom from that worry, more freedom to travel, etc? What about the amenities of a condo/townhouse association such as pool, exercise room, party room, etc… is that something you would use and enjoy or simply an ongoing expense, even when you are not there?
2. HOME FEATURES
- Think about what is important to you inside your home… kitchen, flooring, stairs (or no stairs), number of bathrooms, master suite, closets, windows/daylight, room sizes, traffic flow, etc
- Is a spectacular view or a fenced yard important to you… or something else
- Is construction style important to you? If you like older and historic are you prepared to deal with the potential of radiators, lack of central air conditioning, detached smaller garages, etc?
- Decide on your non-negotiable items and don't waste time looking at properties that don't fill those needs
- Need help prioritizing? Check out this handy tool… Prioritizing your Priorities
3. FINANCIAL GOALS AND RESOURCES
- The financial impact of buying a home is more than the cost of the monthly mortgage payment, which usually includes principal, interest, taxes and insurance (PITI)
- Don't forget to factor in other ongoing costs such as utilities, maintenance and repairs… and be prepared for big ticket items such as furnace, roof, siding, flooring, water heater, etc… it's not a question of if they will need replacing, just when
- Factor in the potential for value appreciation… its most important use is as your home, but it is also an investment which rises and falls with the market
- Talk to your financial planner about how buying a home factors into your long-term financial goals… don't think that just because you are a young first-time home buyer you shouldn't have a long-term financial plan
4. BUYING TIME FRAME
- How soon do you plan to buy? Do you need to sell first? Do you have your financing approval in place? Do you have to improve your credit score before you are approved? Are there other factors that need to be resolved before you even start looking?
- How long do you plan to live in your new home? Think ahead to what you expect your life situation will be like at the end as well as when you buy… will more/fewer people be living in the home? are the living spaces adaptable for different life stages when you plan to live in your home?
- Always buy with resale in mind… life happens, and situations change… even if you plan to stay in your home for a long time always buy with resale in mind to help you make smart choices
Sharlene Hensrud, RE/MAX Results - Minneapolis-St. Paul Buyer's Agent