Buying a family home is always an exciting time. It is the beginning of a new page in your household. Of course, you likely have many hopes and dreams for what your new home will look like as you go through the house buying process.
However, it is easy to get caught up in the small or cosmetic details and to forget what the primary needs of your family are in the process. A house is a purchase that will follow for years, if not decades. Therefore, you should never lose track of the bigger picture instead of getting caught in the excitement of the moment.
Before signing on the dotted line, ask yourself the following questions to make sure the property you are considering will be the best asset for you in short and in the long term.
Is the neighborhood the right fit for my family?
The three most essential elements in real estate are location, location, and location. In theory, you can change many things in a house to make it fit your vision. You can renovate it to your tastes, change the layout to accommodate a growing family, and so on. The only thing you cannot change is the location of the property.
Therefore, most of the value of a house depends on where it is located. For example, the same property can easily double in price if it is in one town rather than another. Before setting your heart on a family home, make sure that the neighborhood is the right fit for your family.
First, when buying a family home, it is always a good idea to take a drive around the area to make sure it is safe. Households with children will, of course, take into consideration the quality of the local schools. However, it is something you should keep in mind even if you do not have school-aged children since it will influence the demand for your property if or when you decide to sell it.
Make sure that the property is in easy commuting distance from your job, including during rush hour. You may want to take a look at the amenities that are present in the area, such as grocery stores, health clinics, public transportation, etc.
Finally, as a rule of thumb, don’t let the amenities of the property blind you. Buying the best house in the worst neighborhood is never a good idea.
What is my budget for my family home?
The question of the budget should be one of the first questions you should ask yourself when purchasing a personal property. For most people, their primary residence is their most expensive personal asset.
As enticing as the idea of owning a house might be, the last thing you want to be is “house poor.” When buying a home, you will need to take into account not only the purchase price of the house but also the related expenses.
Before starting your house hunt, get preapproved for a loan. However, the amount most lending institutions will preapprove you for is typically higher than what you can reasonably afford without putting your lifestyle into jeopardy. Owning a property comes with many expenses that are not always accounted for: maintenance, tax properties, mortgage and homeowner insurance, homeowner association fees, heating and cooling costs, etc.
Before falling in love with a property, make sure that you will be able to comfortably afford the mortgage payment, but also the expenses that come with it. It is always a good idea to get quotes or ask the owners for an estimate of their costs. For example, if the house is older and located in a cold area, ask about heating costs. If some elements of the house, like the roof or the foundation, show signs of deferred maintenance, beware that you will need to replace them sooner than later and make room in your budget for it.
Does this property fit my family’s needs and wants?
When hunting for a family home, keep a running list of your needs and wants. It is easy to fall in love with a property. However, will it be a good place to live in the long run? That’s why you need to establish your priorities before visiting contenders and never forget to compare any potential purchase with that list.
Having a set list of wants and needs will save you a lot of time since you won’t consider properties that don’t fit the bill. Besides, by being on the same page as the other decision-makers (your spouse, for example), the house-hunting process will be a lot smoother.
Among the “must,” keep in mind the size of the building. In many cases, layouts can be changed (within reasonable measure) to accommodate a growing family’s needs. For example, you may be able to divide a large family room into two smaller bedrooms or add a shower in a large powder room. However, putting up an addition or an extra story is not always feasible, and you may outgrow your house in no time.
On the other hand, if you purchase a property too big for your needs, remember that you will need to maintain and heat a lot of space you don’t necessarily use.
What are the perspectives of the local market?
When purchasing a personal property like a family home, many people forget to take into account the value of the house like they would for an investment property. However, your primary residence is also a significant asset and can also set you up for financial success.
You want to make sure that your property will improve in value to sell it for a profit when you are ready to move on. However, even if you are purchasing your “dream home” and don’t intend to sell, building equity on your primary residence gives you access to financing opportunities like HELOC and home equity loans, which can be extremely useful.
When buying a family home, don’t forget to have a look at the value of other properties in the same neighborhood. You will also want to take into consideration the evolution of the housing market in recent years and stay informed on the local trends. By treating your personal property as an investment property, you could save yourself a significant headache in the long run.
Buying a family home is a major decision for any household. Of course, it is the place where you will make new memories. Therefore, it should be the best fit for your lifestyle and be able to accommodate your family’s changing needs. However, never forget that your primary residence is also a significant financial asset that could be the first step in your career as a real estate investor. It can easily make or break your financial position.
What is one of the things you never forget to consider when buying a family home?