How to Decide the Right Home for Your Family
For first-time buyers, the decision to make an offer on a home is both exciting and a little scary. If your offer is accepted, the place you’ve chosen will be your home for the next several years or for life. Not only should you feel emotionally satisfied by your choice, but you should also feel financially comfortable that you’re buying a home that you can afford and that you feel confident will hold onto its value or hopefully increase in value over the years. Buying a home shouldn’t be based on housing values alone, it’s important to choose a home that meets your needs and priorities.
The first and only way to begin the decision-making process is to grab your calculator. A dream home becomes a nightmare the minute you can’t afford it. It’s because a house with a vaulted ceiling costs more to heat than one with a low ceiling. And a house with a pool means paying to maintain it. All these extra factors can add up. For some homebuyers, living in a particular neighborhood takes precedence over all other priorities, but for others, the home itself matters more.
Another less-tangible way to decide if a home is right for you is to trust your intuition. If you’re viewing a house and find yourself imagining your sofa near the window and your green chair near the fireplace, pay attention. Chances are, the house is a nice match for you. You should make a list of what features you want in a home, such as the number of bedrooms, a fenced yard, granite counters in the kitchen, and then rank them in terms of priorities. Think about whether the house or the community matter more to you, and whether it’s worth it to you to make a longer commute in order to live in a home with a larger lot.
Once you’ve determined whether the location or the house itself matters most, you may have to compromise on some of your priorities. If the location is the most important factor for your home choice but you find that homes are priced above your budget, you can compromise. Like looking for a different home type within the community, such as a smaller single family home, a town home, or condominium. Decide if you can live with one less bedroom or other features on your list.
You can also decide based on how you live, not where you’ll live. A house that offers dramatic mountain views and enormous windows onto a pond sounds dreamy. But if you’re rarely home during the day, the views aren’t going to be visible most of the time. Focus on features that will please you indoors. This advice is particularly applicable to kitchens. A sleek, minimalist European stainless steel breakfast bar may be your dream kitchen, but if you’ve got busy toddlers, a practical kitchen with lots of room and sturdy smudge-resistant cabinetry may be a better match.