With the warm weather and abundance of new homes on the market, it’s an ideal season for first-time homebuyers to start their search for the perfect place to call their own. This time of year offers plenty of options for buyers to choose from, giving them the opportunity to find precisely what they are looking for.
But with so many options to choose from, it can be difficult to narrow them down. While you have probably considered what you absolutely must have in your new home, have you considered what your deal breakers would be?
We’ll cover some of the things that you should consider before putting in an offer below.
Many first-time buyers tend to look for fixer-uppers in order to save some money. Things such as paint, landscaping, and esthetic upgrades can be fairly easy for you to update, but bigger projects, like replacing counter tops, renovating a bathroom, or structural damage can take a big chunk out of your savings.
While you are weighing whether or not the renovations are too much for you to handle, factor in whether you can complete them yourself or if you will have to hire a contractor. Projects that you feel comfortable doing yourself can save you money, but you can actually cause yourself a lot of grief (both financially and mentally) by attempting to take on a project that you probably shouldn’t.
This is especially essential if a home inspection or appraisal comes back with a list of negative surprises.
Budget and Price
Your budget, and the price of the home are two different things. You should have a maximum amount that you are willing to spend on a home, as well as a budget that encompasses all of your living costs including a mortgage payment.
By stretching the amount you spend on a home above and beyond your decided price, you could end up becoming house poor, which means putting all of your money into your living expenses, and nothing left to put in a savings account. Even if a house is perfect, its price may not be, so first-time buyers really need to be aware of what they can afford—both in terms of a mortgage and their month-to-month budgets after the deal has been brokered.
Set a strict budget and stick to your cap. Allow yourself a bit of wiggle room, but only use it if it’s necessary, and if it doesn’t go above your actual maximum amount.
Keep in mind that the utilities for the house may also affect your budget—if the house that you are looking at has a much bigger square footage than your current home, it will cost more for heating, air conditioning, and electricity. You can ask the realtor for an average cost of utilities for the home.
Cell Phone and Internet Coverage
While this may seem like a petty thing to consider as a deal breaker, if you work from home, or are a stay-at-home parent, a lack of connection to your friends, family, or clients may be much more of a hassle than you thought.
Sometimes, coverage may be planned for the area, but not yet in place. In other circumstances, it may be that the area is too rural and access may be quite costly. Generally, internet and cell phone coverage are available in urban and suburban areas, but if you are looking too far out of a city, it’s a good idea to at least ask about what you can expect.
The location of your home is one of the most important things to think about before your purchase. When buying a home, you have to think long-term, so it should be something that you can picture yourself being in for at least five years. This means that you should consider the proximity of your home to:
- Your job
- Family and friends
- Schools and dog parks
- Main roads, bus stops, or transit centers
Aside from whether or not your potential home is close to the things that you need, you should also consider the location compared to other homes. Do you want a lot of privacy, or are you ok with a home in a subdivision or a duplex? How close do you want to be to other people, and do you want to share a property?
Consider the neighborhood and whether or not it suits you and your family’s needs. If the location of the home isn’t ideal, and you can see it causing issues in the future, move on to the next one.
Room for Your Lifestyle
Some of us have dogs, others have kids. Some may have piles of books, while others have a room full of exercise equipment, or a garage full of tools. The home that you choose should have room for your life, and for your future.
If you have a dog, you’ll probably need a yard for them to frolic in. If you have kids, or plan to, you need to have room for them to grow and play.
Even if you just need room for a home office or somewhere to store holiday decorations, you should think about the space that you are going to need in your new home, and what you may need later on.
While you can always downsize items, it’s harder to downsize your lifestyle, so if you are certain you are going to need a garage, or three bedrooms, don’t bother viewing homes that don’t meet those standards.
Sealing the Deal
It’s virtually impossible to find the perfect home. There will always be something, say a paint color, or proximity to an amenity, that you will want to improve, but buying a home is a big decision and you’re allowed to be specific about your wants and needs. After all, you are the one who will be investing time and money into the property, so it only makes sense for it to be the best fit for you.
Try to use your head instead of your heart when viewing potential houses, and weigh your options carefully. Take your time, be clear about your requirements, and stick to your guns so that you can have a long and happy experience in the house that you’ll soon be calling “home”.
What would be a deal breaker for you? What is the most important thing for you in a new home?