Whether it’s your first or second home, buying a home is one of the biggest purchases most of us will make – so it’s critical to know what is important when you’re making the decision. While this decision is a matter of your personal preference, there are other things to consider such as the neighborhood, your finances, the home’s structure and your future plans.
You may have heard the phrase “when you marry someone, you also marry their family”. The same is true for buying a home – you’re also “buying” neighborhood. Make sure that you’re comfortable with your surroundings. Talk to the neighbors, visit at different times of the day to see if there’s a change in the atmosphere. Check for traffic patterns. What may seem like a tranquil street at 10am could end up being a busy cut thru during rush hour. Visit surrounding streets. Some neighborhoods border other neighborhoods that quickly turn bad.
Your Future Plans
While I realize you don’t have a crystal ball to predict your future, you should take some time and evaluate your current situation and ask “what could my future bring”. Unmarried couples can be tempted to settle down and buy a house together, but if something happens to the relationship, you could both lose a lot of money. How is your career path? Is your industry solid in this current state of the economy? If it’s unstable, you may want to consider staying put for a little while.
The Home’s Structure
Your new home should not just look good but it should be structurally sound as well. According to the American Society of Home Inspectors, a home doesn’t pass or fail an inspection — it’s not an appraisal — but a home inspector can tell you about any defects in the home. You don’t have to give up hope if there is a problem with the house, but you will need to be prepared to spend money on the repairs to get it where it needs to be. You should also ask for records from the current owners to see what has been done in repairs and maintenance.
What You Can Afford
This one is one of the most important and one of the biggest decision makers. How much can you afford to spend? The general rule of thumb is you can afford a home that costs two and a half times your annual income. Obviously, there are other factors that will weigh in on the exact amount such as your debt and other living expenses. Consulting with a mortgage specialist early on will help you determine the amount you can comfortably invest.