Mark Nash, Courtesy of Homefinder.com
Are you a rehabber or do you love modern dwellings with all the amenities? Do you enjoy tearing down old wallpaper and painting 16 foot-high living room ceilings? Is your passion designing and installing a new kitchen?
The truth is, first time home buyers tend to underestimate the time and money needed for large remodeling projects. Adding a new bathroom, den or even sleek lighting fixtures not only costs a lot of money but can take you a while to complete. If you don't have time to update an older home, look for new construction springing up around the city and suburbs.
This old house
An older home might be cozy and charming, but managing its deficiencies can be frustrating. You're sure to inherit some unknown problems that may end up costing you an arm and a leg. Instead, you may opt for a newer home that features updated construction techniques and was built according to new building code requirements. Since 1978, all newly constructed or remodeled homes must be free of lead hazards, so don't forget to check this out, especially if you have young children.
What suits you best?
Do you prefer a downtown high-rise condo, or a secluded abode near the woods? Are you looking for that quaint Victorian with the picket fence or the midcentury ranch that perfectly showcases your 1950s retro furniture? Do you want a bungalow, so your elderly father can move in with you? Or do you need a two-story family home with a two-car garage and multiple bedrooms to accommodate the different schedules and lifestyles of all your family members? If possible, choose a home that reflects your needs and personality.
Is your new home your first? There's nothing wrong with settling for a more modest dwelling that satisfies your immediate needs, before taking the plunge and spending more for your permanent dream home. The average home buyer stays in his or her home for a little more than six years, so allow yourself a chance for transition when the time is right.
Location, location, location
If the thought of sitting in traffic or switching buses and trains to complete a daily, two-hour commute to and from work makes you nauseous, you had better follow the paradigm of 'location is everything.' If you love walking to coffee shops and boutiques, don't move into a new suburb construction just because you'll be able to afford a two story mansion. Your lifestyle and how your prospective home fits into it, should be the main consideration in your decision to buy a home. Many couples with young children now choose their home according to which school district it's located in to ensure a good education for their kids. What about Fido?
It's heartbreaking to learn that you have to give up your dog or cat, because the homeowner association rules don't allow pets in your new building. Some condominium buildings have restrictions on pets, or place limits on the size and number of pets you can have, so make sure you find out before you sign the contract. If you're looking for a single-family home, check to see if the backyard is fenced to safely allow your dog to go outside. Will it be easy to walk your dog through your urban neighborhood streets on sidewalks and away from busy roadways?
Consider resale value
Stay grounded in reality. Your wish list should always include the potential resale value of your new home. Buying the only ranch home in a neighborhood of two-story houses, or the only 1-bedroom condo in a building full of three-bedroom units, might hamper your chances to sell your home one day. Also, find out if any major construction or infrastructure projects are planned in your area. No one wants to buy a house facing a brand new warehouse.