Many first-time home buyers get stuck at this very same moment, in between the exciting realization that they’re ready to purchase their first homes and the uneasiness of not knowing exactly where to start on that home-buying path. It’s OK, because you’re certainly not alone if you feel this way, and in fact, there’s plenty of research out there that can help you figure out what you can afford and how to go about buying it.
There are some things, though, that still tend to get overlooked in the first-time home buying process, so that’s where these 5 tips will come in. When you’ve done your research and figured out the basic process of home buying (knowing your finances, applying for a mortgage, etc.), turn to these ideas to help you make sure you’re getting exactly what you want for right now and well into your future.
Consider Square Footage
One thing you might not initially consider while you’re shopping for your first home is understanding how much you’re paying per square foot of house. While you want to know that you’re getting a good deal on the space you’re purchasing, you also need to be careful that you aren’t cutting corners to save on cost when it comes to the square footage of your new home.
If you don’t have a family yet and you’re just starting out on that family path, you’ll want to think now about how many children you plan to have in the future, so that you can be sure you have enough bedrooms in the house you’re buying to keep your growing family living comfortably.
Another important thing to consider when it comes to square footage of a new home is whether you plan to have out-of-town guests frequently. That will likely mean you’ll be looking for a home that has one more bedroom than you think your family will need to make room for guest space. You’ll want to make sure your budget is covering the number of people you plan to have in your home at one time well into your future plans.
You might find a great house during your first-time home search, but did you take a minute to step out into the backyard to check out the amount of outdoor space the house features?
While a house with a small yard may not seem like such a big deal for the time being, as you expand your family, you’ll want more room for children or pets to run around and play. Take the time during your house hunt to have a look around outside – is the yard fenced in? How about the privacy of the outdoor space overall? Are there outdoor deck or patio areas on the house? Are those areas safe for children, pets and family members?
Making sure your yard is set up the way you want it to be now will help you save big money in the long run. Just remember that once you buy a house, it’s generally pretty tough to expand outdoor space, so make sure the space you want is there when you buy.
How Old is the House?
Buying an old house can bring a huge amount of charm and character into your new living situation, but old houses do come with their dangers. New houses, on the other hand, usually have a bit less to worry about, but also typically lack the same character as an older home.
If you decide to purchase an older home, just be prepared for the small problems that may spring up as the house continues to age. Things like electrical, fixtures, sometimes even the drywall itself, often need replacing before you know it. Be aware of these things, and make sure your budget can cover it should you choose to purchase an older home.
Obviously, location is a huge factor in the decision process when it comes to which property you choose to purchase. If you find a perfect house in a not-so-perfect location, is it still worth it to you to purchase? Or vice versa – say you find an OK house in the perfect location – which is more important to you, the home itself or the location of the home?
Location will become increasingly important if you have children, as you’ll want to take into consideration the school district in which your home is located, as well as the general demographics of the neighborhood that you’ll be living in. If you plan to have children, you’ll want to try to aim for a neighborhood that has other kids and young families living there, as well.
Design or Buy?
Often, first-time home buyers bypass the option to design and build their own custom home. But, if you shop around a bit, it’s often easier to find a well-priced piece of land than it is to find a well-priced home in an ideal location.
A custom designed home can be built to your exact specifications and tastes, and can often end up being easier on the wallet than buying a brand new home in a location that you want. Should you choose to design your own home, just make sure you hire a designer that you connect with, who understands your vision for your first home, and be ready to be patient. Designing and building a home can take quite some time, but when it’s complete, it can be more rewarding than had you purchased a generic on-the-market home.
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Jane Donahue is a freelance writer who frequently works with a home design company that creates custom Saltbox house plan designs for clients interested in Colonial style housing options. She feels the most important part of buying a home is making sure you purchase something that fits your style, family and desired quality of life.