Looking for a new home may sound like a fun and exciting start to a new chapter in your life, but in reality you will be inundated with lots of homes of all shapes and sizes, all at different price points and in different neighborhoods. All of a sudden, the fun start to your new adventure has turned into an overwhelming headache. To narrow down your search, figure out your housing needs before you start looking. Here are four steps to take before stepping out into the real estate market.
Determine a Budget
As with almost any purchase, determining how much money you are willing to spend on a new home needs to be one of the first considerations. How much you can afford will dictate secondary factors including location, size and amenities. A common mistake home buyers make is not doing sufficient research to determine how expensive of a home they can really afford. Sit down and look at your exact expenses month-over-month, such as car payments, loans, food expenses and recreational spending. The last thing you want is to unrealistically decide you are able to cut corners in certain areas and then be in over your head with your mortgage. It’s also a good idea to get a mortgage pre approval before you start looking so that you are aware how much a bank is willing to lend you.
Find a Location
You’ve probably heard the saying “location is king in real estate.” This is true for property buyers since location plays an essential role in the future lifestyle of your family and the resale value of the property. When looking at locations, ask your real estate agent about neighborhoods that are up-and-coming, as a home in these areas will be a great investment and give you a high ROI when it comes time to sell. It is also important to check which school district each home is in because some of the best neighborhoods aren’t districted for the best schools and vice versa. As a general rule of thumb, consider neighborhoods that have a low crime rate, a good public and private school option for your children and conveniently-located grocery stores.
Determine the Right Size
Once you have decided on a budget and general location, the size of your future home is the next thing you need to determine to narrow your home search. Instead of starting with square-footage, it is easiest to think about the number of bedrooms and bathrooms you need. Couples who do not yet have children but are planning to in the future should consider getting a home with enough space to accommodate a growing family.
Once you have determined your indoor needs, you need to also think about how much space you want outside. Yard space is often a desirable property quality, particularly for families with kids and pets, but it can also raise the price tag significantly, and it requires regular maintenance. Decide if yard space is something you are willing to sacrifice in order to be in the neighborhood you want or to get the extra space inside. If you aren’t going to maintain your yard on a regular basis, it is also important to factor yard maintenance into your budget.
People have different housing needs, but the aforementioned factors are the three you should focus on before you begin your housing search. By doing this, you should be able to narrow down your search enough that you aren’t completely overwhelmed by the large number of homes for sale.