5-Step Plan for Finding the Right Home

Some people like to choose their homes based on gut instinct. Knowing exactly what you want is either a skill or a blessing that I don't have. For those of us who need to write everything down to rationalize our decision, we have created a 5-step plan for finding a home that fits your wants and needs. 

  1. Establish solid boundaries.
  2. Decide what you want to change.
  3. Distinguish deal-breakers from luxuries.
  4. Find a functional layout.
  5. Carefully consider the location.

1. Establish solid boundaries.

Before you create a wish list, it would be helpful to know your limits. Taking a look at your budget to see how much you can afford is a great start. Once you evaluate your household income and decide what you're willing to pay, you can use an online mortgage calculator to determine what kind and size of houses are on the market within your price range. 

As long as you're still in the planning stages, you can improve your credit score as needed. Having a higher credit score will increase your chances of achieving a low-interest rate on your mortgage. While you're planning out the details, this is an excellent opportunity to get rid of some debt, improve your credit score, and save money on your loan. 

You've probably decided on the general location where you want to purchase a home. The planning stages are a great time to narrow down your search to a more specific area. Common factors most homebuyers consider are proximity to grocery stores, entertainment, work, schools, and public transportation. Setting a physical boundary to where you want to search for homes may be helpful in making your decision. Casting a wide net is a good idea at first, but keep the location in the back of your mind. 

2. Decide what you want to change.

An excellent way to find a new home that you'll enjoy is to compare it with your current home. There are likely certain aspects of your home that you enjoy and maybe even are fearful that other houses might not be the same. Take this as an opportunity to make a pros and cons list of your current home. 

The pros section should include all of the positive aspects of your current home that you don't want to give up in your next home. For me, I love that my kitchen has plenty of counter space and storage because I love to cook and need a lot of room. However, I wouldn't say I like how the laundry room is on a different level from my bedroom. With these two ideas in mind, I would want to find a new home with adequate counter space and a laundry hookup on the same level as my bedroom. Making a list of all the pros and cons can give you a clearer picture of what you will want in your new home. 

3. Distinguish deal-breakers from luxuries.

When making your list of pros and cons, it's essential to keep in mind which aspects may be a luxury and which ones are crucial to you buying the home. For example, let's say my family needs two bathrooms because we have three people who get ready at the same time every morning. So, we need to have at least two showers available each morning. This is a deal-breaker because if a home has less than two showers, it won't work for my lifestyle. 

We also love to bake tons of cookies and share them with friends and family. Having a double oven will make our lives easier because we could bake all of the cookies simultaneously. However, if the home fits all of the other criteria perfectly, we could live without the double oven. The oven in this scenario would be a luxury. Figuring out which details you can live without will take some pressure off your decision. Some people even expand their pros vs. cons list from the previous home and turn that into a deal-breakers vs. luxuries list. 

4. Find a functional layout.

Having enough bedrooms, bathrooms, and storage space are important. This falls under the deal-breakers category. To take it a step further, you can consider what you would expect for the layout of the home. 

Another way to describe the layout is the floor concept or blueprint. A few details to think about under layout are the number of levels, open or closed concept, and the arrangement of the rooms. 

Some people can't deal with stairs every day, so having a home with your bathroom on a separate level might become a problem. Or, you might prefer an open-concept home because you like to host a lot of company at once. Finally, you might need to have two bedrooms close together, so you're close to your children. All of these are examples of a decision made based on the layout of the home. Having an arrangement that works for your lifestyle is a crucial aspect to consider. 

5. Location, Location, Location

If you're considering moving, you've likely already given some consideration as to where you want to buy a home. Where you live can have a considerable impact on the price of the house and the quality of living. 

When considering the location, research what nearby amenities that area offers. Search for restaurants, grocery stores, parks, recreational areas, and entertainment near the home. If you have kids, look at the scores from the local school or research nearby daycares. Establish what is important to you and where you'll need to travel the most and find a place near that area. Having a long commute to school or driving 30 minutes to your favorite grocery store might become burdensome and impact your quality of life. 

Another factor of location is the community. Finding neighbors with similar interests will make for a charming neighborhood. The location you choose will dictate what kind of neighbors you get. For someone who wants to be around families with children, you might consider a suburban area to a condo in the city. On the other hand, if you like the hustle and bustle, a home in the mountains might not be for you. The location of the house will dictate what kind of community you join.


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