They say that the three most important things to think about when buying are home are location, location, location. You can live with almost any imperfection in a home if you love the neighborhood and your neighbors. You can change almost everything else. But, once bought, you cannot change your home’s location. When you go house hunting, consider any potential home’s proximity to your work, the charm of the neighborhood, how the home is situated on the lot, ease of access, noise from neighbors, traffic, and pets, as well as access to parks, shopping, schools, and public transportation.
Beyond location, look at the site of the home. If the home is on a hill, does it have a view, a walkout basement, or lots of stairs to climb? Do neighbors’ windows look directly into the home? Is the yard suitable for kids, pets, gardening, or other uses? Is access to the property safe regarding driveway elevation or stairs to the front door?
Be sure the neighborhood, and not just the house, meets your expectations. They say that you should own the smallest home in the nicest neighborhood that you can afford. You’ll have a great view! Drive around on weekdays and weekends, during the day and in the evening. Are homes in the neighborhood consistent in size and features? Do the neighbors keep the yards clean and tidy, or are there old cars and trash around? Is the neighborhood safe enough for people to walk, run, or bike, and are there children playing in the yards?
The Home’s Curb Appeal
Your home should reflect your lifestyle. Do you live a laid-back life? Then you might not want a formal Victorian or Tudor-style home. Something simpler and more contemporary might be in order. Look at the exterior features. A brick home is easier to maintain, unless, of course, you live in an earthquake-prone area. Ask yourself whether the roof in good condition. Is the landscaping attractive and are the sidewalks leading to the home safe?
The Size and the Floor Plan
You may be thinking about buying your dream home. But is your dream home impractical? Do you need four bedrooms and four baths when you live alone? A large home can give you the extra space you’ve always wanted for a home office or crafts or art projects. But you’ll pay higher heating bills and have higher taxes. It will take more furniture to fill it and money to decorate. Think about how the new home space will be used and whether it will fit your lifestyle now and in the future.
The Bedrooms and Bathrooms
Decide how many bedrooms and bathrooms you need, and only look at homes that meet your criteria. It would be a shame to fall in love with a cozy, charming cottage that isn’t big enough. An extra bedroom is always a plus, as it can be used for a home office, craft studio, or guest room. If you think you’ll be adding more room later, be sure to consult an architect who can advise you on space planning, lot usage, and city regulations.
If the kitchen is the heart of your home, don’t settle for a home with a kitchen that won’t work. You can always remodel, but it’s very costly. Can you replace cabinet faces and countertops? Will an inexpensive makeover be sufficient? Don’t worry about appliances, as they can usually be easily replaced.
The Closets and Storage
Older homes tend to have little closets and not a lot of storage space. If you have lots of sports equipment, craft supplies, out-of-season clothes, and holiday decorations, be sure you know where all this will go in your new home. Newer homes tend to have big closets and lots of storage. You can always add storage space, but you might have to sacrifice living space in your rooms.
The Windows and Lighting
Do you love a bright sunny room or do you love privacy? Look at home with light and sunshine in mind. Look at the locations of electrical outlets and fixtures. Will they accommodate your lighting needs? Is there recessed lighting in the kitchen, cove lighting in the family room and a lovely chandelier in the dining room? If not, you can add them later, but it’s nice to have it in place when you move in.
The Finishing Touches
Sometimes the simplest home looks spectacular thanks to the installed moldings, hardware, and fireplace. If these elements are important to you, look for them while house hunting or be ready to add them after you move in.
By Coral Nafie, The Spruce.com