How to Choose a Home
Here are some tips to help determine which house is best for you.
Once you’ve settled on a preferred area or areas for your home search, it’s time to pick out a few homes to view. Having a house features “wish list” keeps you focused on which features are most important to you.
- Know what types of homes you’re interested in
- Determine what age and condition of the house you prefer
- Consider resale potential
- Use a features wish list to keep focused
- Use a home search notes to keep organized while looking
- Act quickly and decisively when you find the right home
Determine What Type of Home You Want to Buy
There are several forms of home ownership: Single-family homes, twin-homes, town-homes, multi-family homes and condos.
Single-family homes: One home per lot.
Twin-homes: Two homes per lot with one shared wall.
Town-homes: Three or more connected units, inner units have more than one shared wall. Usually monthly charges similar to condos, pay your share of insurance and maintenance on the exterior of the building. Sometimes covers snow removal and yard care. Homeowner’s association administers the development. Resale can be difficult as FHA has restrictions as to how many units in a particular development can be owned with FHA loans covering the mortgage. If FHA loans are desired at the time you’re selling and the development is at maximum capacity for FHA loans, then resale can be difficult to find buyers with conventional financing or cash for purchase.
Multi-family homes: Some buyers, particularly first-timers, start with multiple-family dwellings, so they’ll have rental income to help with their costs. Many mortgage plans, including VA and FHA loans, can be used for buildings with up to four units, if the buyer intends to occupy one of them.
Condominiums: With a condo, you own “from the plaster in.” You also own a certain percentage of the “common elements” – staircases, sidewalks, roofs, etc. Monthly charges pay your share of taxes and insurance on those elements, as well as repairs and maintenance, snow removal & yard care. A homeowner’s association administers the development. Same resale issues can be a problem at times with FHA restrictions.
Determine what age and condition of the house you prefer
Weigh your needs, budget and personal tastes in deciding whether you want to buy a newly constructed home, an older home or a “fixer-upper” that requires some work.
Consider Resale Potential
As you look at homes, you may want to keep in mind these resale considerations.
- One-bedroom condos are more difficult to resell than two-bedroom condos.
- Two-bedroom/one-bath single houses generally have less appeal than houses with three or more bedrooms, and therefore have less appreciation potential.
- Homes with “curb appeal,” i.e., well-maintained, attractive and with a charming appearance from the street, are the easiest to resell.
- The most expensive houses on the street, or ones with anything unusual or unique are not suited for resale. The best investment potential is traditionally found in a less expensive, more moderately sized home.
Use a Features Wish List to Keep Your Search Focused
Make a features wish list to clarify which features are most and least important to you when looking for a home. Using this features wish list will keep your house hunt focused and effective.
Use Notes to Keep Your Observations Organized
While house hunting, it’s a good idea to make notes about what you see because viewing several houses at a time can be confusing. Use notes to help you keep track of your search, organize your thoughts and record your impressions.
Act Decisively When You Find the Right Home
Before you begin the home buying process, resolve to act promptly when you do find the right house. Every REALTOR® has stories to tell about a couple who looked far and wide for their dream home, finally found it, and then said, “We always promised my Dad we’d sleep on it, so we’ll make an offer tomorrow.” Many times the story had a sad ending – someone else came in that evening with an offer that was accepted.
Resolve that you will act decisively when you find the house that’s clearly right for you. This is particularly important after a long search or if the house is newly listed and/or underpriced.