If you’re buying your first home, chances are you probably have a wish list a mile long. Don’t worry, it doesn’t mean you’re unrealistic; it just means you’re excited to buy your first home. And it’s perfectly natural to get caught up in the process; problem is though when the original list begins to get a bit muddled down. So when you head out to buy your first home, make sure it at least has these five essential things.
1.) A great location. And not just according to you. Sure you may just love the fact that you have tons of space on all sides of you and that no one is planning on building anywhere nearby, but that might just be one upside of a neighborhood that’s not developing any time soon.
Similarly, if you don’t have children you may not personally be interested in the quality of the school district, but that doesn’t mean potential buyers won’t be if you need to sell the house someday. Your first home is probably not going to end up being your last home, so make sure you’re in a prime location for resale.
2.) A clean bill of health. Think of your home as a person. Even if it looks good now, what is its history? Just as someone may not have any current health issues, their history of smoking five packs a day, eating fast food for every meal, not exercising and holding down a stressful job is going to give them a much higher risk for future problems than say, someone who exercises, eats right and tries to relax once in a while.
Your house is the same way. What’s its history of maintenance issues? The roof looks fine now, but have the owners had to consistently call someone every winter to get it fixed? If so, you might be in for more than you bargained for.
3.) Enough space to grow. As mentioned earlier, your first home may not be your last, but it still has to have the potential to take what you can dish out. People often buy a home with a general time frame in mind, but unfortunately, that plan rarely works out. Unforeseen things happen that require you to move before you want or require you to stay put longer than you want.
A good rule of thumb is to buy a house that you could live in for 10 years. This means if you’re planning on starting a family within the next 10 years, search for a home with at least one extra bedroom (no need to go all out, kids can share a room when they’re small). Or if you’re planning on running a business from your home you might want to plan for an adequate space.
4.) An affordable price. Nothing will put a damper on things (everything) faster than a huge financial obligation hanging over your head. You might be able to afford a $1200/month mortgage now, but what about down the road? What happens when you have a baby? Will you still be able to afford it then?
Instead of maxing out your loan amount, think about the lifestyle you want to lead. Do you want to be able to go out and see a movie once in a while? Or go out to dinner? No point in having heated floors throughout your house if you never use them because the utility bill gets too high.