Are you ready to buy a home? Whether it would be your first or your fifth, there are some questions you need to ask yourself before you start looking. We know it’s tempting to look around first then narrow it down, but believe us when we say if you answer these questions first you’ll have a much better home buying experience.
What can you afford?
There are a bunch of different calculators out there you can use to figure out how much you can afford. If you ask a financial advisor, they’ll usually tell you not to spend more than 25% of your monthly income on housing costs. And that’s more than just your mortgage payment. That also includes homeowners insurance and homeowners association dues.
It’s a smart move to get prequalified for a mortgage before you start looking for a home. That way, you know what the bank will give you. But, and this is a big but, just because the bank says borrow a certain amount doesn’t mean you can afford it.
When you’re crunching the numbers, don’t forget to figure in your other financial obligations: student loans, retirement and college fund savings, car payments, utilities, food and spending money.
Also, think about how much cash you have on hand. After you make the down payment and pay closing costs, would you still have enough cushion in your bank account to furnish the home and cover any necessary repairs?
What’s important to you?
Are you looking for a short commute, strong neighborhood schools or a fifth bedroom? Maybe it’s all of those things. You need to have a firm grasp on your priorities before looking for your new home.
- Location: This is the single most important factor when choosing a home. It’s both a personal and a practical consideration. Personally, is it important that you live close to work? Close to certain schools? Close enough to walk to restaurants, breweries and parks? Are you looking for an urban or suburban setting? Practically, is the area increasing in value? Is it a good investment? Is it in a noisy flight path? Does it back up to a busy road?
- Turnkey or fixer-upper: Be realistic here. Think about whether you really can (or will pay someone to) renovate a kitchen, rip up damaged floors and re-sod the backyard.
- Space: How many bedrooms do you need? Could your family expand in the near future? Are you planning to work from home? The home you choose should be big enough for the unexpected.
Separate your must-haves from the nice-to-haves
Make a list of all the things you would love to have in your ideal home. Now, separate that list into two categories: deal-breakers and icing on the cake. Making these decisions before you look for a home will make the search so much easier.
Your deal-breakers are the things you can’t live without. It might be certain schools, five bedrooms, walkable distance to work, garage or community pool. Your bonus features list might include a skyline view, high ceilings, mud room, south-facing windows or hardwood floors.
Once you’ve figured out what you can afford, what’s most important to you and which features you can’t live without, then you’re ready to give your 5 Points Realty broker a shout and get the ball rolling. We can’t wait to put you in your dream home!