5 questions to ask yourself when considering a new home

Purchasing a home is a big investment and a big decision. The process can be overwhelming and stressful, but all very exciting at the same time. When considering a new home, we always hear that it is all about location, location, location. But there are several other things to consider as well. Here are five questions to ask yourself when considering a new home. There are related sub-questions below the main questions to really get you thinking.

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1. What is your family situation?

a. Children: Do you have children? Are you planning on having or adopting any children, or more children? Will your children be moving out soon?

b. Parents: Do you have parents that may need to come live with you? What will their needs be?

c. Pets: Do you have any pets now? Do you foresee having any or additional pets in the future? What are or will their needs be? If you ask me, pets are family members too!

2. How much space do you really need?

a. Declutter Before You Buy: Do you actually use all the items in your home?  We typically use only 20% of what we own. The other 80% is stuff we think we should own or think we will use someday. What are some items you never use that you could donate, recycle, repurpose, or throw away? After you do that, do you still feel like you need more space than you currently have?

b. Cleaning and Maintaining: Remember you’ll need to clean and maintain every square foot that you decide to purchase. How much do you like to clean? How much time do you have to clean? Do you plan on hiring a cleaning person? Do you feel like you have too much to clean and maintain now? Do you like to work on the house? Are you handy? Can you downsize?

c. Bigger is Better Mentality: If you live in a small apartment, condo or townhouse now, you may think you that you need a lot more space. You may actually need more space. But first consider, how would you use that additional space? Do you have a purpose in mind for the additional rooms and square footage?

3. How much land do you want?

a. Yard Maintenance: Do you like to work outside? Do you like to mow the lawn? Do you like to garden or landscape? Do you plan to hire someone to take care of this for you?

b. Privacy: Do you like a lot of privacy? Do you like neighbors nearby? Do you like to live within walking distance to shops? Do you prefer a more country-like setting?

c. Entertaining: Do you like to entertain and use an outdoor space? Do you need a yard for your children and pets to play? Do you need a fenced-in yard? Will you ever want to add a playground set, a hot tub, a pool, a gazebo, or other outdoor structure? Do you enjoy the seasons/weather in the area where you live?

4. How much can you really afford? 

a. Reality vs Pre-approvals: You may get pre-approved to spend more on a house than would be fiscally wise. Take time to figure out your income vs. your expenses and debts to determine how much you can truly spend on a mortgage payment each month. If you are not ready to buy yet, consider putting aside a “pretend” mortgage payment each month and see if you still have enough money to comfortably live. Seek advice from a financial advisor.

b. Flexibility: If you live in a two-income household, what if one person wants to stop working to take care of the children, go back to school, or work in a volunteer position. Or what if one person wants to go from full-time to part-time? What if one person gets sick or becomes disabled? Try to make it so you can afford your house payment with just one person’s income. Seek advice from a financial advisor.

c. Priorities: What are your priorities? Is having a beautiful and spacious home one of them? What about paying for private school for your children, or saving for their college education? Do you want to travel often? Do you want to have extra money for a side business or hobbies? Do you want to work less and spend more time with your family? Don’t let a mortgage prevent you from doing what is most important to you.

5. What kind of layout and features will really fit your lifestyle?

a. Layout: Tour homes, go to open houses, browse houses online, and pay attention to the layouts of your friends’ homes. What do you like about each one? What do you dislike? What would really work for you and your family? Do you want to be able to talk to people in the family room while you are in the kitchen? Do you want to be able to see the children playing while you are in the kitchen or the office?

b. Rooms: What rooms do you really need? Do you plan to use a formal dining room or would a large eat-in kitchen make more sense? Do you need an office? Do you need a guest room? What about a mud room? Do you need a garage or workshop area? Do you need storage for bicycles, sports equipment, hobbies, collectibles, holiday decorations, etc.?

c. Character: Do you want a home with character? What does character mean to you? Is it something that only comes with an older home, or can you add it yourself? What features of a home would be nice to have, but are not deal breakers? What features of a house really make it a “home” to you?

What other questions are important to ask yourself when considering a new home?


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