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How do I pick a place to live? Tips to considerably narrow your search

Tips that will help you decide which home to buy

Key takeaways:

  • Make a list of why you’re looking to purchase a home and prioritize your needs
  • Determine a budget for your purchase and take overlooked costs into account
  • To decide on a neighborhood, look at daily commute times, local culture, research school districts and the home's proximity to amenities and other points of interest

What are some important considerations for buyers?

Buying a home doesn’t need to be an overwhelming process. With proper planning, you too can find the home that will make you happy for years to come.

Since the typical homebuyer lives in their home for an average of 13 years, it’s important to plan for possible future lifestyle changes. This may have an impact on the type of home you choose to purchase, such as a single-family home, a condominium or a home with investment possibilities.

A better understanding of your reasons for wanting to buy a new home will simplify your search. Some of the most common motivations for buying a new home are:

  • Adapting to lifestyle changes
  • Desire to move to a different neighborhood
  • Moving closer to a job or family
  • Accommodating a growing family

Important home features to consider

  • Size of the home
  • School districts and programs offered
  • Number of bedrooms
  • Floor plan
  • Number of levels
  • Yard and lot size
  • Distance to amenities

Making a list of your goals and ranking them in order of importance may help you in selecting a new home.

How do I determine how much home I can afford?

When determining a budget for buying a home, you need to:

  • Set aside a fixed amount for your down payment
  • Identify and plan for your estimated monthly mortgage payments

Your mortgage lender can help you set realistic expectations for these two figures, but only you know what your month-to-month budget is really like. What you qualify for and what you can actually afford may be entirely different—it’s ultimately your responsibility to avoid spending more than you should.

Additionally, when buying a home, many people plan on making changes to the property. This is a great way to turn a house you like into a home you love. But it’s important to keep in mind recurring expenses associated with homeownership, especially if you are including renovations in your budget.

Home expenses that are often overlooked

Everyone has different goals when shopping for a new home. These financial factors can help you realize your goals and narrow the search for your purchase.

How do I choose a neighborhood?

As the famous phrase goes, it’s all about location, location, location! A property’s location usually has a huge influence on its market value.

As you become serious about buying your own home, it’s important to narrow down your search to locations that match your specific lifestyle and personal preferences. To do this, you’ll need to take into account variables like the property’s proximity to stores, highways, busy roads, schools, airports and other points of interest. If you have children, it’s a good idea to thoroughly research the area’s school districts—GreatSchools.org can help. For general neighborhood demographics, take a look at the latest US census. For neighborhood walkability, you can use WalkScore.

Once you’ve figured out where you want to live and how much you can spend, you’re ready to move on to the next step! It’s time to get pre-approved for a home loan.

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