5 Questions to Ask When Shopping for a New Home

3 years ago

As any regular viewer of HGTV can attest, there are endless factors to consider when buying a new home. Are repairs needed? What are the schools nearby like? How far is the commute? The questions seem endless, and the mistakes couples make on House Hunters always seem so obvious—when we have the benefit of distance and objectivity to judge. However, when choosing your own home, remember to ask yourself (and your partner) these questions.

Credit Image: David van der Mark on Flickr

What kind of neighborhood would you like to live in? There are social neighborhoods with shared amenities, like the Churchill Farms community here, or those without. There are neighborhoods comprised mostly of families, which also tend to be more social—as opposed to neighborhoods without amenities for individuals over 50, where it will be less likely you’ll know your neighbors well.

What risk of change is available in the area? If your house or neighborhood is adjacent to empty land, it is likely that you’ll experience construction during your time there. Depending on your area’s zoning laws and the process of approving construction, these changes could be potentially decrease or increase the value of your property in coming years. If your home currently is in a more rural area of town that has a great potential for development, the value of it can increase. However, it is the quality of the development that affects this. Shopping centers, more homes, etc. are all assets to a community; but plans to potentially run a highway just 100 feet away? No thank you.

Do you want a home owners’ association? While HOAs typically have a negative reputation for their additional fees and rules, they exist for a reason. HOAs can help keep the property value within the neighborhood high, which will work in your favor in the long-run. The regulation they provide helps maintain a high visual quality throughout the neighborhood, which may not occur in a neighborhood without one—reflecting poorly on you and your selling price in the future.

What are your future plans? If you are a young couple planning a family, consider how much space you’ll need to accommodate your future children. Will they share bedrooms? Will there be enough room for them to play outside, or facilities nearby for them to do so? Checking out the schools nearby is also a must. Legally, your realtor can rarely share an honest opinion about the school system, so research on your own will be necessary. Furthermore, do you plan on growing old in your home? If so, a master bedroom on the first floor will be more ideal for you. Is the neighborhood close to a hospital in case of emergencies, and if not, what is the drive like?

Can you afford your home? This seems like a very simple question, but many factors will come into play when deciding how much you should actually spend on a home. Meeting with a financial planner is ideal before even searching. Preparation for retirement, sending your kids to college, and having an adequate amount for savings and discretionary spending are important factors to consider. While loans are a smart way to finance your home to avoid “putting all of your eggs in one basket,” there is a right amount to spend on them.

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