This 8-week series, How to Find the Perfect Home for You and Your Budget, will show you how your next home can match your wants, needs and, most importantly, your budget. There’s no reason you can’t dream big with this next purchase, all the while working within your budget. Even though you may feel more financially secure if you plan to use funds from the sale of your current home, moving to a new home requires some self-evaluation of what’s next, a mortgage strategy to make it affordable, and then putting it all together for a successful purchase of your “perfect” home.
We all do it. It’s just too tempting not to when you know you’re ready to move.
What’s the harm in spending a weekend at open houses and looking around, right? It seems logical (and fun!).
Resist that urge.
Yep, I tell my clients to NOT start looking around at homes immediately!
Because it’s better to ask yourself some very important questions first. That way you can define and picture the life you want to live and a home that will match it before you may get sidetracked by what’s out there. Most agents don’t approach home buying this way, but I do.
Taking time for some “self-analysis” will make you dig deeper into your needs and wants than answering, “How much square footage or how many bedrooms do you want?”
The 12 questions you should ask yourself and your honest and revealing answers will lead you to the right home purchase — for you, for your lifestyle, and for your budget.
Please don’t think that this brainstorming and self-exploration is something to skip over. In fact, your answers to the questions below will help you avoid making the wrong decision and sometimes a very costly mistake when it comes to finding your next home.
If you are buying with a friend, family member or loved one, go through these questions together. Each of your answers can help make sure that you are both on the same page or you can identify the areas you need to continue discussing in order to get on the same page.
Bottom line — even though the internet makes it easy to look at homes, you don’t want to “fall in lust” with a home that’s not perfect for what you really need and want!
That’s why if you slow down and take the time to think and really evaluate your life and the “what” and “why” for a new home, the rest of your home-buying experience (especially the house-hunting part) will be that much more rewarding and stress-free.
You’ll actually get everything you want and maybe even things you didn’t think you could have (or didn’t think about before)!
1.) How long do you plan to live in this next home (and also how long will you own this home if you plan on renting it out after you move out)?
How long you plan on living in your next home will determine so much about your criteria. That’s why this is THE absolute most important question to answer honestly since it will impact the rest of your home-buying search. You must answer this question first before you continue to the others.
2.) What will your life look like during that timeframe?
Answering this question will help you determine what purpose your home will serve, most specifically your wants and needs at that stage of your life. Plus, you’ll determine what your #1 driver (or reason) for buying a home right now and for the time period you want to own that home.
For example, do you want to be close to all the city has to offer based on the stage of life you are in or are you willing to drive a bit further to certain places to get more house or land?
3.) What about your current daily life do you love and are not willing to give up? What don’t you like?
For example, do you love being able to walk to work? Do you love going to your local coffee house every day and enjoy local conveniences? Do you like to go for runs outside or hit the gym instead? Do you need to be close to daycare and your kid’s school? What is your actual reality day-to-day that you don’t want to sacrifice if you can?
4.) What is there about your current home that you would like to change or be different in your next home?
What bothers you every single day about your current home? For example, it could be the lack of closet space or not enough counter space in the kitchen. Too noisy neighborhood or not convenient to stores? What don’t you ever want to have again or realized isn’t worth having in a home for you?
And, on the flip side, what is the absolute most important, can’t-live-without it, deal breaker thing you MUST have? (We all have one.) Do you really, really want that master bedroom suite or that large eat-in kitchen? What about garage parking? Or to have enough yard space to have a garden and entertain outside?
5.) Are you more of a “homebody” wanting to spend time at home with or without others? Or, are you more of an “out-on-the-town” kind of person and really don’t like entertaining yourself?
Knowing the answer to this question will help you determine how much space you need for the lifestyle you envision. If you never have friends or family over, then why have a huge space for that dining table you never use?
But, if you’d rather invite friends over for a barbecue or drinks, host family gatherings, have the neighborhood kids over to play then don’t give up your dream of having enough room to make this desire a reality.
6.) Do you work late and need to be close to the office with a quick, easy commute? Or, do you plan to work remotely for a long time?
This question will help you determine location as well as things like whether you need a dedicated parking spot. Or, maybe you love biking to work every morning, but don’t want to have your bike in your living room anymore. Then perhaps having a garage to store your bike is something we need to keep at the top of the priority list.
And if you want to work from home or plan to have a hybrid schedule, then you have more freedom when it comes to location. However, you’ll want to make sure you have enough room for office space.
7.) What are your personal and financial goals during the timeframe you are going to be living in this new home?
For example, do you plan to change jobs at some point so that your finances may change – a possible increase or decrease in salary? You don’t want to have a mortgage that binds you to your current job, especially if your goal is to switch to a less stressful work life while living there. Do you need to keep a large chunk of your monthly income for daycare or private school? That may change the budget you want to spend for this next home.
8.) What are your hobbies and how will they impact your life while living in this home?
Confused? For example, would you prefer to live in a less expensive, possibly smaller home so you have the funds to travel the world or even for a favorite hobby (think scuba diving, travel photography, etc.)?
Or, do you want to live close to an important outside interest (think horseback riding, sailing, ballroom dancing, etc.)? Or, do you want to travel more and be closer to an airport or other transportation for more convenience?
Or, do you want space for your hobbies (think painting with canvases and easel, crafting supplies, auto restoration, or refurbishing antiquing finds, etc.)?
The hobbies you enjoy need to be part of the home buying equation, so list them out.
9.) Do you consider yourself a “location person” or a “house person”?
Very important question! Some people get more excited about the local amenities than the features inside their home. Usually people tend to be more one than the other. Which are you? What do you tend to gravitate toward? Which of these two are you willing to compromise on, even slightly, for a home if you can’t have it all?
For example, would you rather be near urban conveniences, lots of quiet green space, or a wider number of school choices? Or does living in a certain neighborhood with a certain feel make you the most happy? Then location could be more important to you. If so, many locations have distinct personalities and you want to know which one YOU want.
On the other hand, if having lots of inside space such as a chef’s kitchen with top-of-the-line appliances, a media room to stream your favorite shows, or enough yard space for a pool gets you all excited rather than any particular neighborhood then you are more of a house person.
Next week, we’ll go into more detail with this question, so stay tuned.
10.) Are schools in the neighborhood a factor for this home purchase?
Now’s the time to think about whether schools, even in the future, is a factor in your home buying decision.
Even if you don’t plan to have children soon, it’s a question worth asking since homes in better school districts tend to appreciate more in value, but also can be more expensive up front. If you have young children or plan to start a family in the near future, then getting yourself educated about schools will be important. You don’t want to be forced to move a few years from now when you have kids and don’t like the schools.
Just remember that real estate agents can’t recommend school districts due to Fair Housing Laws. You’ll need to do your own research and make your own personal decisions about which schools you like or don’t like. Plus, what your friends and family think might not be what you want when it comes to schools.
This series will go into more details on buying for schools in week 6.
11.) Describe your ideal scenario when it comes to your home purchase and why.
This is the time to dream BIG! After asking yourself all the questions above, now’s the time to take your brainstorming to pen and paper. Get out a piece of paper and write down everything you could possibly have if you could have it all (within reason) in your next perfect home. Don’t hold back! Write down things you might think are out of reach.
Doing this will set a target so we know what we are aiming for and can help us get as close a possible. Next to each item on your list, write down WHY this need or want is important. This will help us rank each item on your list and also see how we might be able to accomplish the same goal a different way.
After you do this exercise, I can tell you if what you want is realistic for the budget you’ve set or if and where you’d need to think about compromising. Most of my clients are pleasantly surprised they don’t have to compromise as much as they might have initially thought!
12.) What would you be willing to you compromise on in a home?
It’s hard to start with what you are willing to give up, but after listing out all the things you DO want from the questions above (and don’t hold back on this part—list everything!) Circle three things you could possibly live without on that list.
Congrats on answering all of these questions and hopefully it sparked some additional self-analysis that will help you find that perfect home!
If you’d like to talk through your answers to any of these questions, especially if you are stumped with how to answer them, I’m here to help.
Next week, we’ll take a closer look at Are a “House” or a “Location”
Person? The answer to that will become your leading compass on where and what you will look at when you start house hunting.
I'm Brooke Taylor and I love helping first-time homebuyers and sellers make their real estate goals a reality.
Let me know how I can help you make your real estate dreams come true!
1307 E Southern Ave. #101
Mesa, AZ 85204
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