Things to consider when finding your perfect home
- Financial: What can I afford? Don’t forget renovation in this assessment!
- Structure: What do you need out of your home?
- Location: Where do you want to live?
- Lifestyle: Does the House match your needs as a person?
If you’re buying your first home or rightsizing to a smaller home, the process of buying a house can be a long and stressful process. However, knowing what you want before you start seeing homes with a real-estate agent will make both of your lives easier. It will help the real-estate agent with their research, narrowing down to homes they know you will probably love. Here’s a checklist of qualities to consider before you start driving to every open house in your city:
1. How much is your budget?
We might hate talking about money, but consider this now before you find yourself looking at the perfect house only to discover you can’t afford it. This isn’t just to save time—it’s to make sure you truly love the home you do find. If you can’t afford the perfect home, you’ll never be truly happy in the one you did end up buying.
2. Who will live in your house?
Do you have a small family or a big one? Is it just you? Will your parents eventually move in with you as they get older? Sure, there a lot of questions, but each one answers the second most important aspect of finding a home: Bedrooms. You want to plan well for the future when looking at possibilities. If you have two young ones who can share a room now, you still want to consider that ten years down the road, they are going to want more independence. Price and Bedrooms will almost always be the first question a real estate agent asks you.
3. How many bathrooms?
Everyone fears the Brady Bunch scenario—a beautiful home for a big family…and one bathroom. Nine people can’t share one bathroom and actually love each other like the Brady Bunch does. At the same time, you probably don’t need one bathroom per bedroom, and you can even have half-bathrooms for guests. Also consider what your bathroom needs. If you are never going to soak in a hot bath, look for a bathroom with a walk-in shower. What kind of accessibility will your family need? If you have kids, a bathroom with two sinks is a time and stress saver.
4. What kind of cooking will you do?
Bedrooms and Bathrooms are important, but most people get more excited over kitchens. The Kitchen is the heart (and stomach) of the house, so when we see that perfect kitchen, it’s because we can see our family there. Are you going to cook a lot, or have a large family to cook for? Look for a stove with more than four burners, and a double oven. Look at the counter space and picture everything you will need to place there. Sometimes it might look like a lot, but depending on layout, counters can fill up fast. If you see yourself happily preparing food, you’re picturing yourself in a happy home.
5. What type of living areas do you need?
The two primary living areas are the family (also called “living”) room and dining room. Depending on the size of the house, you might have a formal living room too—or maybe even a library, music room, and/or cinema. These rooms are where you’ll spend most of your waking moments, really, so consider them with the same care you would a bedroom. Remember to think about form and function.
6. What type of house are you looking for?
The type of house you choose isn’t just about preference, but function. If you have young children, a disabled family member, or an elderly parent, you’ll want to look for a single-story ranch without any steps in or out. However, if your children are older and you only host every so often, a two-story colonial might work better. There are many different kinds of homes, so be sure to do a little research.
7. Do you need outdoor space?
Think about the front and back yards of your ideal home. Do you see a big back with kids and a dog playing? A small front lawn in front of a duplex? Or is your perfect home a nice condo four floors up from any ground?
8. How old is the house?
Both new and old homes have their charms and their annoyances. If you are the first person to own a home, you might spend the first year repairing things you never thought could go wrong (we had one customer who had two pipes in their walls that weren’t connected—their wall flooded!). With an old home, you might find issues popping up as the seasons change, like the wood shrinking in the winter and causing drafts. Or find out how much more costly it is to have air conditioning units instead of central air in the summer. For a really old house, you’ll need to hire an election to update the outlets and wiring! But for a new home, you might have leaky windows or a poorly framed room.
9. How much parking space do you need?
How many cars will you have? Do you need a large driveway and two-car garage? Or do you just need something small? Don’t forget the parking!
10. Location is (almost) everything
Now that you know the details of the house you need, it’s time to look at the location. If you’re a private person, you might want to avoid a suburb. However, more secluded houses require more lawn care, so if you hare outdoor work, go to a more densely populated area. Or maybe you like to be near arts and culture and great food—a townhome or condominium in the city works perfectly…at the sacrifice of easy parking. And then the first question every parent asks Schools. Research schools and school districts before finding out you’re sending your kids to a school you don’t like. Finally, where do you work? If you don’t like long commutes, make sure you find a place that won’t take too long to get home to in rush hour…or get some audiobooks.
And if you are still unsure, talk to a real estate agent—sometimes we don’t know that we want or don’t want something until the option is presented. Maybe you didn’t realize it, but you really want a fully functioning treehouse with built-in cinema, and there just happens to be one a few miles from your work and your children’s schools!