Finding Your Dream Home: Tips for Success
With interest rates still relatively low, but expected to rise in 2018, now is the time to start your search for a new home. Here are some tips to help you find your dream home:
- Make a list of priorities. Ideally, your dream home would have everything you want in it, but it’s still a good idea to make a list of what you want in order of importance to you. What are you most concerned about? Location? Square footage? Private backyard? You may have to give up one thing to get another, so you want to be prepared with your priorities so you will know what is non-negotiable for you. Also, think about desires verses needs when making your list. For example, a home might not have the vaulted ceilings that you love, but meets your needs and wants in every other way. Those vaulted ceilings are a “want” more than a “need”.
- Think ahead. How long do you plan to live in the home? If you are single or newly married you may want a starter home that you will only stay in for a few years while you save for a larger home. But if you are expanding your family or planning to work from home, make sure you factor in the space that you will need. Don’t buy a house that will only suit your needs for a year if you think you may live there for ten years. There is always the chance that things will change, but plan for what you know for sure now.
- Decide on your “most lived in” spaces. Where do you spend the most time in your current home? If you love to cook, chances are the kitchen is going to be the most important room for you. If you are a homebody who likes to kick back and watch movies, your den or family room might be the room to focus on. It might be challenging to find a home where you love every room, but you can give a little on the others if the one you use the most is perfect for you.
- Stick to your budget. While searching for your dream home, it may be tempting to extend your budget a bit. Don’t do it. A standard goal is to keep your mortgage payment (with taxes and insurance included) at around 25% of your monthly household income. Make sure that you have looked at your overall monthly budget to see what you can really afford, and then limit your house hunting to properties in your price range. Refrain from looking at houses 1-2 price ranges above yours. You don’t want to get excited about a property that you can’t afford. In addition, once you have seen them, the houses that you can afford won’t look as good in comparison. The exception is that if it is a buyer’s market, you might be able to negotiate a lower price, so it is ok to look at homes just slightly above your budget.
- Decide if you want to do renovations or if you want a move-in ready home. If you are handy, you might see a diamond in the rough that you want to fix up yourself. Make sure if you do this that you are not shopping at the top of your price range because you will need extra funds for doing the renovation.
- Try to see through the “ugly”. It’s easier said than done for some people, but try not to just pass on a home because of cosmetic reasons. Look at the bones of the house and imagine its potential. Focus on layout and flow rather than paint and décor. If it’s the right home for you, cosmetic changes are easy and will give you the opportunity to make the home your own.
- Don’t give up! It might take a while to find exactly what you want. Be patient and don’t settle for something just because you’re tired of looking. You never know when just the right house will go on the market. It will be worth the wait when you move into the home of your dreams!