In this series, How to Find A Great Home for You and Your Budget, you’ll learn how to find a home that is the right fit for your lifestyle, needs and, most importantly, your budget. It takes you through every single step and shows you how to avoid buyer’s remorse. Your first home is most likely the stepping stone for your next home so you want to set yourself up financially to move up to your next home.
When you’re thinking about buying a home, what pops up in your mind? Are you most excited about living near your favorite coffee shop, certain restaurants or a convenient bike trail? Or are you filled with the anticipation of having a home with awesome features, like a chef’s kitchen, deluxe master suite, or a large yard with a patio? Usually people tend to lean toward one or the other — being a “house person” or “location person.” Which are you?
Some buyers want a larger house with lots of space for entertaining or for their family needs no matter what, and are much more flexible about the actual location. Others hold true to the real estate creed of “location, location, location” and make the neighborhood and community their priority. As you can see, your answer will affect your daily life more than anything else.
What Matters Most to You?
It’s time for self-analysis. Take the time to really understand your wants and needs before looking for a home (condo, townhome, or single-family house). Your honest answers are what will help guide your home search. This actually could be a “family” analysis – your spouse, partner or children can play a part in the decision-making.
Make the three lists (below) – and use some of the brainstorming prompts to help get you going:
1) What are the characteristics you want in a location? How close do you want to be to your favorite places, whether that be a running trail or a coffee shop? Where do you want to be able to walk easily? Do you need to be close to public transportation? What features of a location will impact your daily routine? Are schools important?
2) What’s important about your home other than location? What are those features you dream about or feel like you lack now? How much space will you need in the next 5 years? What things do you really want on your list, such as yard space, office space, a garage, an owner’s suite, or a gourmet kitchen, etc.? What about a favorite architectural style or type of home such as a single-family, townhome, or condo? Does it have to be pet-friendly or have a nearby park or trail?
3) What is your absolute deal breaker(s) when it comes to a home or location? For example, street parking only, traffic/busy roads, one-story, not enough storage space for toys, long commute time, etc.
Look over your lists and see what stands out and makes you feel that it’s a “must” for you. Is it on the location list or the house list? This will be something that you’re willing to make a priority in your search and will help dictate if you’re a house or location person. Remember, it also needs to be realistic.
This entire analysis also should help you know what factors you’re willing to compromise on or do without in a home.
Location, Location, Location
If you’ve determined that “location” is your answer, then you know that “where you live” affects everything about your lifestyle (and you want that lifestyle no matter what!).
You also have the attitude that you can always “change” the home to make it better suit you but you can’t change the location. This is an important factor when you consider resale and living in an area that will retain its value. Since location and neighborhood mean a lot to you, you’ll have to see what type of home you can purchase within your budget.
Here are some options to keep in mind if your budget is lean:
Buy a smaller home, a fixer-upper, or one that lacks some features you’d like but don’t really need.
Consider another home type. If single-family homes are too expensive, look at townhomes in the area. They can have similar inside space but are less costly. Most of the new communities being built in Georgia are now including options for single family homes and townhomes.
If you can’t find anything within your ideal area that fits your budget and most of your needs, then you might have to think outside the box. You don’t want to spend years waiting to buy or become a habitual renter. Here are some options:
Be open to looking at other locations that have the same neighborhood “feel” you’re seeking but have less expensive homes. This can be an option when proximity to a job or school is not a factor.
If proximity is a factor, consider looking at homes on the periphery of the “perfect” neighborhood if homes are less expensive or have more of the features you would like in a home. Even though you may not be living right in the middle of this neighborhood, you may still be able to enjoy many of its nearby amenities.
If you’ve determined that “house” is your answer, you know that a home’s features are the key selling point for you rather than a specific location. Spending time at home, entertaining, and just enjoying your space will make you the most happy. Some buyers lean toward this answer since they would rather buy a move-in ready home and be flexible with its location in order to find one within their budget. Even if a certain location is tempting, these buyers know that renovating a home or purchasing one too small is out of the question for them.
Home buying is easier when location is not too restricted in your search. Here are some options for you to consider:
Once you know the home features you must have, then you’ll have an idea where you can buy within your budget. So your location search becomes flexible until you find the “right” home for you.
Being a “home person” doesn’t mean you don’t care where you live!! It means you’re more open to looking at different locations than eliminating features.
Keep in mind that buying the biggest home on the block in an area you don't like at all can create future challenges with retaining value and resale. You still want to make an educated decision when determining a location.
With a little give and take you can find a home you’ll love in a location that can work for you and your family.
If you have any questions about being a “house” or “location” person, contact me. I have a list of questions that we'll go through together. Your answers to those questions will provide clarity to your search for a home and make sure you end up with the right house, in the right location, for the price you want to pay. Just know that you can have what you want in a home--location, size, and a price you are comfortable with.