Before you begin shopping for a new home, figure out how much space you need and want and what you can afford. Consider the current and future makeup of your family, your lifestyle, your budget, the design of the house, local housing prices and costs for utilities, repairs, maintenance and property taxes.
Think About Your Current Home
Understanding the advantages and drawbacks of the place where you live now can help you choose a new house that suits your needs. Make a list of things you like and don’t like about where you currently live and figure out whether those problems are due to insufficient space or a poor design.
How Many Bedrooms Do You Need?
Think about how long you plan to live in a new house and how your needs may change in the future. For example, you may have more children, your kids may move out or an elderly parent may move in.
Consider how often you have guests and whether you should buy a house with an extra bedroom for them. You may decide to look for a house that has another room, such as a family room or den, that can be used as a bedroom if necessary.
What Layout Is Right for Your Family?
The layout of the house may be more important than the square footage. A smaller house with an open floor plan may feel roomier and more comfortable than a larger house with a lot of smaller, separate rooms. A cozy, average-sized house may encourage your family to spend quality time together.
Consider family members’ privacy needs. Look for a home that will give each person an opportunity to have some alone time when necessary, whether in a bedroom, study, game room or another area.
Think about how often you prepare meals. Figure out whether an eat-in kitchen or a separate dining room would work better for your family.
You should also consider resale value and the needs and preferences of future owners. It may be a good idea to choose a house with rooms that can be used in a variety of ways.
What Can You Afford?
You may have a long list of things you would like to have, but you should ask yourself which are really necessary. For instance, you may dream of having a home theater, but you may compare the costs of houses with and without home theaters and decide that it’s not worth the extra money.
Many homeowners think about how much they can afford in terms of monthly mortgage payments but fail to consider other costs of homeownership. A large house may cost a lot more to heat and cool than a smaller one. Having family members spread out in several rooms using lights and electronic devices simultaneously can contribute to high utility bills. A large house will also have higher maintenance and repair costs and will take more time and effort to keep clean.