The search for a new home is not always an easy one. It can take a lot of time and patience to find a house you actually want to buy and once you find that house, you will likely be tempted to rush the decision and make your offer. Resist that temptation. This is a very big decision that should be given a lot of thought. Before you put in your offer, ask yourself these ten questions and make your decision based on your answers.
10. Does this house feel like my home?
The feeling you get when you walk into a house for the first time shouldn’t be ignored. If you walk through the door and feel like you’ve just stepped into your home, pay attention to that feeling. A lot of little problems can be fixed. Having a house that truly feels like your home is a great place to start. You don’t necessarily have to have this feeling to buy your home though because not everyone is going to be able to get that feeling about a house they see. You can make a house feel like a home by adding personal touches and decorating but if you have that gut feeling about a house, it’s worth giving it a little extra consideration.
09. Does the size of the house fit my needs?
If you’re going to be living alone, you likely don’t need a big house. If you have a family, you’re going to want a house that comfortably accommodates everyone. Pretty basic stuff, really. Making sure your house is large or small enough to meet your needs goes deeper than just the number of people that will be living in it. If you have overnight company on a regular basis, you’re going to want a place for your guests. The couch might do but will you be stepping all over each other over the course of the visit? Do you need a home office? Do you need a room for musical instruments, crafting supplies or home gym equipment? Extra rooms do mean spending extra money much of the time but your house needs to have enough space for you. If you’re living alone, don’t have a lot of overnight company but need a room for crafting or something along those lines, consider a smaller two bedroom home. Second bedrooms can easily become the extra space you need for recreational activities or for a home office.
If you have pets, you’ll also want to consider their needs. Animals often need a lot of room to play and, well, be animals. If you buy a house that is barely big enough for you, your pet may not be happy with their lack of space. If you have pets, you’re also probably going to want a backyard or at least an outdoor space where your pet will be able to run around and play. A bored pet is a destructive pet which means trouble for you and your furry friend.
08. Do I expect my family to grow?
This is a big one and one you really need to consider. If your family is going to grow, you want a house that can grow with it. If the house you’re looking at is big enough for ‘right now’ but may not be big enough down the line, you should really consider looking at another property. ‘Down the line’ can come much sooner than you expect. It’s better to be prepared than to find yourself racing against the clock to find somewhere large enough to accommodate the new addition to your clan.
07. Will the rooms in the house suit your needs?
While this one is similar to the size issue we discussed earlier, I felt it deserved it’s own spot on the list because it’s important. If you do a lot of cooking or baking, you’re going to want a decent kitchen that is functional and offers enough room to do what you love. The same goes for the bathroom, living room and master bedroom. You want to make sure the rooms that are most important to you, whatever they may be, will suit your needs.
06. Are there major renovations that need to be done?
Major renovations and minor renovations are two completely different things. Minor renovations might involve changing some tiles or switching up the color scheme in a room. Major renovations, on the other hand, could include gutting rooms, taking out walls and changing the layout of the house. Major renovations mean major money and are often far beyond the skill set of the average home buyer. Major renovations could also mean finding somewhere else to stay until renovations are complete. Major renovations may not be a big deal if you can get an especially good price but keep two things in mind: One, major renovations rarely go exactly according to plan, Two, major renovations rarely come in under budget.
05. Is this my “forever home” or will I want to sell down the road?
Although not many people think about whether or not they’ll be moving when they buy their first house, it is an important issue to consider. If you aren’t planning on spending the rest of your life in the same home, you will likely eventually be selling the house you’re about to buy. The resale value of your house should be something you consider. If it’s a house that you can get for a good price, do some repairs on, upgrade a few things and sell for more than you paid, it’s not just a good house for your family right now, it’s also a good investment for your future as well.
04. Am I going to be able to maintain this house and the property?
Buying a house also means maintaining that house and the property the house is on. That back yard you’re in love with needs to be mowed. The pretty flower gardens need to be weeded and cared for properly. The hardwood floors are going to need basic maintenance. Pipes freezing is often an issue in older homes. Have a well? What happens if that well goes dry? Floor to ceiling windows? Beautiful but they don’t wash themselves. If you’re a busy person, finding time to look after all of those things can be extremely difficult. Really consider the maintenance on your house before you decide it’s the one for you.
03. Does the location work for me?
If might be the house of your dreams with everything you want at a price you can afford but is it really worth it if you never get to enjoy it because of a long commute to work? Location really is important. If the location of the house you’re considering is too far from where you work or from your friends and family, it might be worth looking at somewhere closer, even if it means having to sacrifice some of the things on your want list. That’s not all you need to consider when talking about location though.
If you’re taking a tour through the house and have concerns about “minor” issues, you need to take a few moments and decide how minor those issues actually are. As you’re walking through a house you’re falling in love with, those little things don’t seem all that bad. “Sure the neighbors seem a little close but look at that gorgeous kitchen!” “Sure the street is a little busy but look at the size of that master bedroom!” “Sure the noise from the train is a little jarring but holy cow! There’s a pool!” Once you’ve moved into the house and you’re all settled in though, those little annoyances you so easily over looked on the tour could become much bigger headaches. Do yourself a favor and really think on them before you put in your offer.
02. Can I afford this house?
Before you say yes, consider the following:
- Do you need to buy furniture, dishes, fixtures or assorted décor items?
- Will you need to buy or replace appliances?
- Do you need to paint, rip up carpet, replace tile or make other cosmetic changes?
- Do you need to add a fence or do landscaping work?
- Are there any major repairs or renovations you’ll need to do?
- What closing costs are you looking at?
- What moving costs are you looking at?
- How much will it cost to hook up utilities?
- Will you have enough to pay for possible upkeep on the house?
All of the above questions need to factored into whether or not you can afford the house you’re considering. There are a lot of other miscellaneous expenses involved with buying real estate that you’ll need to talk over with your real estate agent as well. You may be able to apply for certain grants or credits but make sure you know that that financial picture looks like before you make your offer.
01. Am I really ready to buy a house?
There is no rule that says you have to buy a house once you reach a certain age. If you’ve gone through this list and you’re feeling overwhelmed, you really need to consider whether or not you’re ready to buy a house. You may very well be – this is an overwhelming process after all – but don’t let anyone pressure you into taking a step this big if you’re not sure you’re ready to take it, even if that someone applying the pressure is you. There is no rush. Taking your time and making sure you’re ready is the best way to avoid making a huge mistake.