A Multi-Family Home

Important Considerations When Buying Your First Home

by Arnold Gomez

Have you finally saved up enough money to put a down payment on a house? Are you looking at homes for sale, but are getting confused by all the options? Choosing the right home can be tricky, especially if you plan to stay in the same house for decades. Here are a few things to consider when trying to find the perfect house:

Purchase price: When looking at homes for sale, too many people choose the features they want first and then look at the price. However, price should always go first. It doesn't do any good to look at only homes for sale that have swimming pools, if it turns out that you can't actually afford any of them. Should your finances improve substantially, you can always add a swimming pool, extra bedroom or another bathroom later. Being flexible allows you more choice and opens up possibilities that you might otherwise have overlooked.

Accessibility: Having a house that was built on its own small hill can be very picturesque, but will you enjoy trudging up the steps after every rain or snow storm? If you live in an area of the country that receives heavy snow every year, is the house in an area that's quickly cleared by snow plows, or does it take a day or two for them to work out that way? In addition, while nobody likes to think about getting older, you have to consider the interior layout of any potential house as well. Narrow hallways and steep stairs may seem like a conservation of space now, but they can be a great hindrance as you age. If you do stay in the home long enough to need a wheelchair, a walker, or any other mobility aid, narrow hallways and steep stairs can become impassable obstacles. If you really intend to stay in the area for a long time, look at homes for sale that have a more open and easily modified layout.

Commute: To save money, you may start looking at lower-priced homes in more rural areas. Unfortunately, this may actually be costlier in the long run. For example, if you find a home that costs $175,000 at 5% interest in a rural area or $200,000, also at 5% interest, in a more urban area closer to your job, the difference in monthly payments is only a little more than $100. When you factor in the additional gas it will take you to get back and forth to work, plus the commute to stores that may now be much further away, you may find that you'd be spending way more than an extra $100 per month on transportation costs. If you're looking at rural homes for sale because you like the area, that's fine. However, you shouldn't automatically assume that it will be less expensive to live there. For more information on purchasing your first home, contact a real estate agent.