If only we could try on houses the way we try on jeans. Sleek condo in the heart of a thriving city? Stylish enough for a night out. Quiet property tucked away in the country? Simple and understated. Modest home in a family-friendly neighborhood? Great for casual wear.
Buying a home is all about finding the right fit—and everyone has their own version of what that looks like. You only buy your first home once, so it’s important to choose one that’s just right for you and your family. Your real estate agent will help you identify properties that might meet your home buying needs, but first you need to pinpoint what those are. Since you can’t try out a home before you buy it, it helps to make a prioritized list of the things you want—or don’t want—in your new home.
Here are a few considerations to help you get started:
Proximity and location
When real estate professionals say location is everything, they’re not kidding. Choosing a location that matches your lifestyle should be a top priority. If you thrive on the bustle of urban living, a quiet home in the country probably won’t be your cup of joe—or vice versa. Ask yourself a few key questions, and let the answers guide you to the right location.
- What places do you love to visit?
- What activities do you enjoy the most?
- Do you prefer to drive or take public transport to work?
When you fall in love with a home, it’s easy to believe you’ll want to live in it forever. But change happens. Exciting job opportunities pop up, families grow and there’s always a chance you’ll need to move again in the future. That’s why it’s important to keep your home’s resale value in mind. If you do end up moving, the last thing you want is a home you’ll have trouble selling. Factors that affect your home’s resale value include:
- Number of bedrooms and bathrooms
- Available storage space
- Updated amenities
- Amount of work it needs
Whether you have kids now or plan on having them in the future, you’ll want to choose a home that meets their needs as well as yours. Before moving into a neighborhood, do some research to make sure it’s child-friendly. For example:
- How good are the schools?
- Are there nearby parks or places to play?
- Are there sidewalks?
- Will your children have other kids to play with?
Number of rooms
Take a moment to ponder how much space you’ll need. At minimum, your home should have enough bedrooms and bathrooms for the whole family—but you may also want some extra rooms. If you plan on hosting out-of-town visitors, for example, a guest room might be a must-have. You may also want some extra space for a home office, hobby room or additional storage.
The inside of your home might be what matters most, but the exterior is important too. Kids and pets often go hand-in-hand with fenced-in backyards. Couples who like to entertain might want a patio or deck. If a backyard sounds like more maintenance than fun, however, you may want a home without one.
We all have our own sense of style, and your home should reflect yours. But too many preconceived ideas about what your home will look like can limit your options and prevent you from spotting a real gem. Keeping an open mind to multiple styles at the beginning of your home search will help you narrow down your preferences as you continue to look.
Kitchen islands, reading nooks, large pantries, laundry rooms—these things may be inessential, but they can make a big difference in your quality of life. Think about the amenities you’d like your home to have, and decide which are must-haves and which you can live without.
Buying the right home is all about knowing when to compromise and when to stand your ground. By prioritizing the things you want most in your new home, you can target your search more effectively and find a property that meets your family’s needs.