When looking for a home with my clients, I'm often asked what's more important: the home's location, size or condition. Heather and I talked about this yesterday on our "Dear Claire" Facebook Live session - and here's a few more questions to ask yourself when looking at homes:
Size: Does it fit your lifestyle? And what about future lifestyle?
If a two-bedroom bungalow is calling your name today, that's awesome! But if you're also planning on starting a family or possibly thinking about having an aging parent live with you in the next few years, will that bungalow fit your long-term needs? While selling a home is always a possibility, it's also important to know you may not see returns on your purchase within the first few years depending on the market.
Condition: Does it need repairs?
When viewing a home, you'll want to make an honest assessment of your own handiness, abilities, and time. No matter the project, it can take a lot of dedication and finances. Many buyers look only at what their monthly payment is going to be, and of course, you’d like that to be as low as possible. But if you buy a house needing $75,000 worth of work - for instance, a new kitchen - financial wisdom tells us cash now is worth more than cash later. Following that advice, you might want to consider buying a house $75,000 more expensive, with a kitchen you want already installed, because you’ll be paying for it over time, instead of all up front.
Location: Is it everything?
As Heather noted in the video, "location is everything"; but when buying solely based on location, you’ll have to compromise on other things. A family of 6 buying a 2-bedroom home with a semi-finished basement in a fantastic location is compromising on square footage. There may be a 5-bedroom home further out, at the same price. One location might enable you to get home in an easy 15-minute trip, but there isn’t easy hang out space for the whole family, while the bigger house affords you tons of space, but means you’re commuting 45 minutes to and from work. These are the difficult considerations when deciding between properties and unfortunately not a decision we can help you make, because you ultimately have to live with the choice; but we're ready to help you talk through your options.
Budget: What does your budget allow you to do?
If you're already stretching your budget to buy a home and pay the mortgage, you'll want to consider what your finances will be afterwards, as you adjust to being a homeowner. After moving in, you may discover you need new curtains and a cute couch; and you’ll want some extra cash for that. However, there are ways we can structure a loan to minimize your out of pocket costs and will help with your cash reserves after closing (perhaps seller pays some of your closing costs!).
Bottom line: ultimately it's about what is important to you and what fits your lifestyle, both current and potential. Sometimes those top priorities can be in conflict and our job is to help you figure out what’s most important to you.
Have a real estate question you want Claire and Heather to answer on their weekly live chat? Let us know below!
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