Shopping for your first home is an exciting and confusing time. Most first-time homebuyers have limited knowledge about what they are looking for in their first home. I wasn’t any different, I was not ready to move to my new home.
Although I had lived on my own in apartments for 2 years prior to buying my first home, I still had little knowledge of what I was really looking for in a home. When I was living in an apartment it wasn’t really a big deal if I didn’t love my home since I knew I could move within a fairly short timeframe, at the end of my lease, if I wanted to. But buying a home is usually a little more permanent than renting an apartment or house.
Now that I’ve lived in my home for over 2.5 years I have a much better idea of what I’d look for if I were to go home shopping again in the future.
With that in mind, here are 3 things you should consider while shopping for your first home so you don’t have the same regrets I have now.
Total Monthly Costs
When I was shopping for my house I went and got a pre-approval letter from my bank which I used to set the budget for my first house. The first mistake I made was buying a house that was at the top of my approval limit. The second mistake I made was not considering how much my total monthly costs would be for a home at that price level.
There’s more to it than just your monthly mortgage payment. You should also consider how much it’s going to cost your to heat or air condition your home throughout the year, how much the maintenance costs will be, and how much you’ll have to pay in property taxes. Once all of these additional costs were added onto my monthly mortgage payment, I figured out that my house costs me nearly 45% of the monthly income from my full-time job. Yikes!
What the Future Holds
As I mentioned, buying a house is a lot more permanent that renting somewhere for a year or two. In fact, if you live in your house for less than about 3 years you’ll most likely lose money when you get ready to sell it. This means that you need to carefully consider the future before you buy a house. You need to make sure that the location of your new home is ideal so you won’t want to relocate to a new area.
Another consideration is how much space you’ll need for the future. While you don’t want to buy too big of a house, you also don’t want to buy a house that’s too small for your family to grow into if you are expecting to get married or have kids in the near future.
What Can and Can’t be Changed
As you tour different homes on the market, try to ignore superficial things like paint colors, décor choices, and fixtures. These are all things that can be easily and cheaply changed after you buy the home. Instead, you need to focus on making sure the floor plan make sense for your purposes and that there are no major repairs or upgrades that would need to be done right away that you can’t afford. A home inspection is another great way to make sure you know what you are getting into before you buy a house.
Are you a homeowner? What did you consider while shopping for your first home?