While house hunting is considerably more fun than budgeting for your journey, it comes with its own unique challenges. Talk to your agent—not just explaining what you want, but why you are buying—and they may show you homes you wouldn't have otherwise considered.
Before you begin house hunting, have you done the following?
You have probably heard the first rule of real estate—location, location, location. It's a key factor in determining how much you can afford, how long your commute will be, and your school district. When determining where you want to live, ask yourself:
Urban or Suburban: Do you want the convenience and walkability of city life? Or do you want a larger home with a yard, away from the hustle and bustle? Will these change over time as your household grows or shrinks?
Proximity to your job: Today's average commute is longer than ever before. Are you willing to make an hour-long drive to work, or do you want a short commute? Consider your current job and future opportunities.
Access to Public Transportation: Do you need access to public transportation to get to and from work, school, or your primary health care provider?
Your location will also be a determining factor on your home type.
If you're in the market to buy, you need to decide what type of home you want. Each type has its advantages and disadvantages and the right one for you will depend on your finances, lifestyle and stage of life.
Single-Family: Typically, these are the largest of the property types – providing you with the most privacy and space. If you buy a site-built single-family home, you're responsible for every aspect of the home which requires both time and money but allows you more control over your home.
Townhomes: Townhomes are oftentimes a good entryway to homeownership for first-time homebuyers as they are more affordable than single family homes. They require little outside maintenance and many townhomes include amenities such as parks and playgrounds.
Manufactured Homes: Today's new generation of high-quality factory-built homes are comparable to site-built homes and offer features such as garages, permanent foundations, and built-in porches. More affordable than site-built homes, they offer a good option for first-time homebuyers.
Condominiums: Condominiums can provide you with a maintenance-free lifestyle and are typically located in urban settings. They may provide access to amenities like pools and fitness facilities and are typically within walking distance of shops, restaurants, and public transportation.
Once you decide what type of home you want, you should determine your "must-haves" and your deal breakers. Think about your household now and how your needs may change in the future. It is easy to get overwhelmed with so many possibilities so consider creating a homebuying wish list to help you narrow down your choices.
Both your finances and lifestyle will play a big role in determining the type of home that's right for you. Follow our spring homebuying series to learn more about the homebuying journey.