Buying a house is a significant undertaking. When you’re looking at homes, you may not realize how many factors come into play and influence your final decision. At first, you may be focused on finding a spacious, comfortable living space, which makes sense because the house itself should be your top priority. However, there are a number of small details that are often overlooked during the home buying process and can affect your life after the move. Here are three factors that might not immediately come to mind before buying a home, but need to be carefully considered:
1. Changes in the Costs of Living
Your mortgage isn’t the only monthly cost that will change when you move. Individual towns often apply their own real estate and school tax charges, and the percentages can differ from one area to another. You may be willing to pay additional taxes if you’re looking for the best school districts, but make sure the additional tax payment fits into your budget. You may also want to consider buying a home in a budget-friendly neighborhood and then use the savings to send your children to a private school. The cost of living also changes between towns and larger cities. You can use the web calculator at Salary.com to calculate the cost of living index for comparative purposes. You may not realize just how much basic living expenses will rise in your new town. Other additional expenses to consider include a monthly home owners’ association fee, landscaping fees if you’re coming from a condo or apartment and higher utilities to support a larger living space.
2. Your Surroundings
Your dream house should also be located in a suitable neighborhood that fits your lifestyle. Don’t forget to look beyond the property you’d like to purchase. To get a feel for the character of the surrounding area, drive up and down nearby streets. Look for basketball nets, backyard grills, fences and swing sets. If you’re looking to raise a family, are there other children playing outside? Listen for sounds of traffic and transit, including local trains and overhead airplanes landing at nearby airports, and check the streets for traffic, especially on a busy Monday morning. It also doesn’t hurt to look into the quality of local schools and crime rates when evaluating a neighborhood.
3. Your Career Plans
Dealing with a long commute to and from work can quickly turn your love for your new home sour, making this another important factor to consider before you sign on the dotted line. Keep in mind that you shouldn’t just factor in your current commute, but future commutes, too. For instance, if you work in an industry where you change jobs or locations frequently, you’ll want to live in a centrally located area, perhaps close to public transportation, to make future commutes manageable. Similarly, if you typically log a lot of miles driving to meet work clients, you’ll want to be close to the highways for easy accessibility.
Before buying a home, think about factors beyond the actual structure of the house and the number of bedrooms and bathrooms. To avoid becoming overwhelmed with your home search, start by limiting yourself to certain neighborhoods. This will help you to avoid the possibility of finding something you like and then being forced to choose between a house you love and an unsuitable neighborhood. For additional help, head to Owners.com to search for a house in your price range that’s located in a neighborhood that works best for you.