Searching for just right home can be very exciting. You may plan ahead for number of bedrooms and bathrooms that you want. Or imagine preparing for dinner parties in a sun-filled kitchen. Although these things are important, there is more to a good home purchase than rooms it contains. Following are just a few suggestions to consider. Take some time to make a list and determine which additional priorities are important to you.
Survey neighborhood during many different times of day and days of week. Are you comfortable with noise, activity levels, traffic volume, etc.?
If you have, or plan to have children, check with local school board about neighborhood schools. What is student/teacher ratio? How are test scores? How involved are parents? What programs are available for students? What credentials and how much experience do teachers bring to task?
Is foundation of your new home sound? Is it well built?
Are existing appliances sound or will they need to be replaced?
Are home's major systems such as electricity, plumbing, heating/air, and roofing in good condition?
Is home energy efficient?
How much major and/or cosmetic work will be required?
What will your commute look like? If possible, do a trial run during rush hour.
What is crime rate?
What permits have been issued for new projects and/or construction in your new neighborhood?
Will you be expected to pay homeowner association fees? Are you comfortable with covenants set forth?
Does neighborhood provide sufficient recreational opportunities?
Will you be moving into a home or joining a community?
Is local grocer clean and well-stocked?
Enlist help of a good real estate agent, reputable home inspectors and others to help find a home with more than just a pretty face.
Beyond Mortgage Payments
Owning a home involves far more than keeping current with your mortgage payments. There are a number of costs associated with home ownership that extend far beyond basics (i.e. principal, interest, taxes and insurance). Assuming responsibility for these costs can be a big financial adjustment. This is particularly true if, as a renter, you are accustomed to responding only to fixed expenses (i.e. rent) without much concern for variable expenses (i.e. broken pipes and new water heaters). Well, now you are landlord and it is up to you to handle mortgage, in addition to all of variable expenses of home ownership.