Your home is your sanctuary. The right home can support you in living a happy and healthy life and meeting your goals and dreams. The wrong home can do the opposite. Buying a home is also an incredibly expensive prospect. Put those two facts together and the importance of finding the right home for you is clear.
Fortunately, millions of people before you have used the same tried and true techniques to find the right homes for themselves as you can now put to work for yourself.
Location is one of the fundamental factors to determine first. Homes differ greatly in different areas. Conveniently, the same factors that help you decide on the location in which you wish to live can be put to use finding the right home within that location. For example, did you pick a city or a small town?
If you picked a city, you might be looking for convenience and economy in a home. If you picked a small town, on the other hand, you might be looking more for privacy and space. Did you pick a warm place or a cool one?
If you picked a warm place, you may want a home with a lot of ventilation. If you picked a cool place, you may want a home that is well insulated. Starting from this point, there are many other factors to consider to help you find the right home.
Cost and Affordability
You want to purchase a house you can afford. While this may sound obvious, you might be surprised at how many people buy houses they cannot afford. The way to be sure you do not fall into that trap is to compare the cost of the house with your reliable income.
The cost of the house is a factor of the total purchase price of the house and other fixed expenses like taxes, insurance and homeowners’ association fees, if applicable. Your reliable income is the income you can count on from your work, meaning hourly wages or annual salaries.
Commission income, bonuses, tips and investment income are not necessarily reliable and should not be counted. Savings and gifts eventually run out and do not count as income, but as assets. Your assets may be able to help you get into a home, but only your income can help you stay in that home.
To figure out how much you can afford to spend on a home, calculate how much you can afford to pay each month in mortgage payments. You should not have to pay more than 50 percent of your income on monthly payments for your home, so use that as a baseline.
You may need to spend much less than 50 percent of your income on your home, however, if you have a lot of other monthly expenses or savings goals. Once you know what you can afford to spend each month in payments, remember that those payments include taxes, insurance and other applicable fixed mortgage costs, like private mortgage insurance (PMI) if your lender requires you to carry it.
Allow for those factors in your calculations, and you can use this figure to determine the price you can afford to pay for a home. Armed with this information, you can narrow your search to homes in this price range. Here is how to make a rough estimate:
The PMI is usually between .3 and 1.2 percent of the loan amount annually. So, for example, if the price of the home is 200,000 at 4.5 percent fixed rates, your mortgage payment is approximately $1,013. If your PMI rate is .3 percent, then you would pay an extra $1,000 for the year, or $83.33 a month, which brings your monthly payment up to $1,096.
Presumably, you are looking for a home in which to live. Accepting that as a given, how else do you use your home? Ask yourself the following questions:
- Do you own a home gym, for example? If so, you will need to consider where in your new home you are going to put it.
- Do you entertain a lot? If so, the size of the kitchen and common areas may be a factor in selecting the most suitable homes.
- Do you have a particular preference for how to heat your home, such as oil, baseboard or wood fireplace?
- Do you work a lot and simply need a quiet, peaceful place to sleep? Consider how you spend your time in your home to help figure out what type of home is best for your lifestyle.
Access means different things to different people. To some, it means access to hospitals, clinics and schools. To others, it means access to public transportation so they can get to and from work without a vehicle. A great home could be in a poor location providing you poor access to the services and facilities you need and use most. In that case, it is not such a great home, after all, no matter how nice it is inside. When finding the right home, you need to balance the fittingness of the home, itself, along with the access it affords you to the life you want to live.
There are many different styles of home available to choose from. Some are considered historic or particular to the region, town or neighborhood you are looking to settle in. You may be interested in a more traditional home, like a Victorian house, or something more modern. There are a few questions you need to already have the answer to before you begin your search. Some of the most common questions you should answer include:
- How many bedrooms and bathrooms do you want or need?
- How big a lot size would you like? Does it need to be fenced in?
- Are you okay with stairs, or does it all need to be on one floor?
- Does it matter to you how close a home is to the street?
- Do you require an attic or a basement?
All of these factors about the style of a home should come into play in your search. The more specific you can be about these questions, the more likely the results of your searches will yield homes that fit your requirements. Consider the age of the property you would like, as well. A newer property will likely require fewer repairs and upgrades right away, but an older one may have a historic charm you cannot do without, or may simply be just the sort of fixer-upper with which you could work wonders.