Home is not a place, it’s a person. But after you do find that person and you decide to build a life together, the search for home suddenly looks a little different. Instead of aligning on goals and values, you’re now comparing lot sizes and prices. It might not be as important as finding your parter in life, but searching for your first home will definitely play a significant role influencing your family’s future. There’s no hard rule as to what age you should be shopping for your first house, but instead, it will just organically feel like the right time for you to take the next step. So whether your search is already ongoing or you’re just starting to think you might be ready for this change, make sure to ask yourselves these questions before sealing the deal. It may seem difficult at times, but don’t forget to also enjoy this exciting milestone!
First and foremost, figure out and agree on the amount you can afford considering your savings, your incomes, and the amount of leverage available to you. Scan for homes within your budget or maybe even stretch it a little, if you’re confident in your negotiating skills. Note that the price of the lot is not the only amount you should be looking at. There are also taxes, renovation costs, and a steep increase in your monthly expenses, to name a few, that should be considered. Bear in mind that’s okay if your first home does not check all the boxes of your dream home. It might just be the stepping stone your family needs to make the dream a reality.
How many children are we planning to have? What are our career goals? How long do we plan to live in this home? It will definitely take more than one conversation before you find all the answers, but it is oh so important to put in the time to make sure the home you choose to build is aligned with the life you both envision. Your lifestyles, your careers, and your goals for the future are factors that will help you make the right decision for you.
How close are the nearest hospitals, grocery stores, and retail shops? How do you like the churches and schools in the area? You will be spending most of your time over the next 5, 10, or 20 years in this neighborhood so it’s important to make sure it’s a good fit. If you happen to know someone living in the neighborhood, go ahead and ask what the community is like. Is it mostly young families that get together on the streets for afternoon playtime or is it a more laidback, mature community that prefers to keep to themselves? Neither of the two profiles are better—it’s really just a matter of preference for what works best for your family.
It would be prudent to check the location of your prospective home to ensure it’s not on or too close to a fault line or at high-risk for flooding. Areas that are more likely to be affected by natural disasters typically fetch lower price tags, but be warned. Any savings you might have from the lower prices will be far less than the cost of rebuilding your home should anything unfortunate occur.
If you’re looking at purchasing a house and lot, be prepared for a thorough inspection. Check what furniture and appliances are included in the sale, as well as their working condition. It might surprise you how much you end up shelling out to replace old or faulty roofing, electrical lines, and plumbing. All these houseworks and the additional furniture and fixtures needed must all be factored into your overall budget. Also ask the seller what major renovations have been made to the house so you can gauge the quality (and likelihood of repair) of the construction job.
A Home Owners Association is usually tasked with managing the neighborhood’s common areas and enforcing the rules and regulations of the community. In order to properly function, a Home Owners Association collects fees from its residents, which is something you’ll need to factor into your budget. Another thing to consider is if they have any rules regarding home design and improvements. It’s best to know upfront if they would give the green light to your dream home and all its lovable quirks as compared to arguing about it mid-way construction.
Research will definitely be your best friend as you go through countless listings and community message boards, but it also wouldn’t hurt to add a pro to your team! A professional Real Estate Agent will not only help you ask the right questions, he or she can also ensure you’re making a wise purchase in the long-run. They know how much homes in the same neighborhood have sold so you can leverage on this knowledge. If you’re looking at buying for investment purposes as well, a professional can definitely steer you towards the right direction for communities with projected price increases and development plans.
If you’re looking for more helpful content for building a home or redecorating your current one, you check out our collection of home articles here. Enjoy your house hunting journey!