Buying a house is one of the largest investments you’re likely to make in your life. As such, careful thought and planning should go into finding the house that meets your current and future needs and fits your budget. A licensed real estate agent can provide help and guidance, or can you can research and conduct a house hunt on your own.
Don’t start house hunting until you know your desired budget. A bank or mortgage company can help you assess your finances so you know what kind of price range is most appropriate. A finance professional can also help you examine different types of loans and decide which one is a good fit for you.
Consider how far various neighborhoods are from freeway access, your place of work and neighborhood amenities like grocery stores. Also consider what is adjacent to neighborhoods you’re considering. Properties that are located near undeveloped land may one day become home to commercial or industrial space, which could potentially decrease the value of your home over time. Check local zoning and land use plans from your city zoning department to get an idea about what kind of neighbors you might have in the future.
If you’re planning to have a family in the future, consider the quality of the educational opportunities available near the neighborhoods you’re considering. You can check with your local education department to compare standardized tests scores and state performance evaluations from different schools.
While many young couples and families purchase a small “starter home” with plans of eventually moving up to a bigger house, it’s important that the house you are purchasing meets your current and short-term needs from a space perspective. Consider room size, available storage and outdoor space.
Many homes in master-planned communities offer residents access to community pools, parks and sports or recreation facilities. If these are important to you, search neighborhoods that offer these perks.
Always conduct a home inspection prior to buying a house. A home inspector will identify any potential problem areas related to a house’s structure and major operating systems. If a home needs a lot of repairs, you may get it at a lower price, but you’ll have to invest time and money to restore it.
Many young couples just starting off will eventually move to a bigger home as their family expands or their earning potential increases. To ensure you get your money’s worth out of your first home, make sure you’re buying a house that has the potential to have a solid resale value. You can check our local county recorder’s office to get an idea of what resale values are in the neighborhood you’re considering, or consult a seasoned real estate professional for advice.
Lisa McQuerrey has been a business writer since 1987. In 1994, she launched a full-service marketing and communications firm. McQuerrey's work has garnered awards from the U.S. Small Business Administration, the International Association of Business Communicators and the Associated Press. She is also the author of several nonfiction trade publications, and, in 2012, had her first young-adult novel published by Glass Page Books.