If you’re a first time home buyer, remember to check your lifestyle needs against your financial constraints before you decide to buy. If you don’t, you may waste time and money on a home purchase that doesn’t fit your family or career needs in the years to come. It’s better to get the right home now or no home at all than to get a home that won’t work out for you in the long run.
Make sure you evaluate each of the following elements of your new home before you get to the closing table.
How far are you from work? Long commute times may seem acceptable at present and may save you money if a home further away is significantly cheaper, but think about it long term. Over the years, the gas expense of that long commute will add up. You may find that a long commute forces you to alter your lifestyle significantly.
Similarly, check out the job market in the area where you plan to move. Are there other jobs besides yours? It’s the local economy growing or dying? Will there be additional work available if you get laid off or if the company closes? If you’re taking out a long term loan to pay for your home, such as a 30 year fixed rate mortgage, you’ll need significant financial stability for many years to come. Make sure the area where you plan to move can provide this stability.
How many children do you have? How many do you plan to have? Do you plan to rent out spare rooms to help pay for the mortgage? Your answers to these questions will determine what size home you need. If you’re planning to have more children, make sure you have the room you need to expand.
Don’t get a small house and assume you can add extra rooms later. You probably can, but there may be an environmental constraint or building moratorium on your area. Check for such obstacles before you buy.
If you’re planning to invest a lot of sweat equity into perfecting a fixer upper, great. But if you want a home that’s ready to move into right away, make sure you take extra time to check all features of the property before you buy. Your willingness to put in additional money and time to make repairs will affect the home you choose to purchase.
You can refinance your mortgage and take out cash to make repairs if you need to, but don’t bank on this. You’ll have to pay closing costs when you refinance. It’s typically not wise to refinance within two or three years of taking out your first mortgage.
Does your lifestyle necessitate a large yard? A small yard? A garage? Check these external features before you make a final decision. You can’t add more yard space in the future if your lifestyle changes. Plan ahead.
The neighborhood is another element you don’t have direct control over. Make sure the neighborhood meets your needs and the needs of your future family. Is the area safe? Can you access the amenities you need easily? Find out before you put any money down.
These considerations are important for first time home buyers. If you’ve never bought a home before and you would like to learn more about how to evaluate a home both financially and to meet your lifestyle needs, contact a real estate agent or a mortgage professional who knows the area where you plan to buy.
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