Buying a home may be one of the biggest financial decisions you will make in your life. It is important to take the time necessary to research and carefully consider all of the elements involved in the process.
Some key things to keep in mind when buying a home can include your budget, location, size/layout of the home, condition, resale value, financing options, and your future plans. Additionally, it is essential to research the area, find a good realtor, and be prepared to act fast once you find a home that you are interested in.
With the proper knowledge and preparation, you can ensure that you will make an informed decision and find the perfect home to meet your needs and goals.
Below, we’ll go over some of the most important items that you need to consider when buying a home. Not all of these items have the same importance; however, it is crucial to think in a holistic way because all of them complement each other.
When searching for a location for a new home, there are several factors to consider, including:
Proximity to work, schools, and other important amenities
Consider how long your commute to work and school will be and whether the location is close to grocery stores, gyms, restaurants, parks, and other places you frequent. There are different ways to check the proximity of a location to a specific point of reference:
- Use an online maps service such as Google Maps or Bing Maps to measure the distance between two points.
- Utilize a proximity search tool, like proximity search in Google Maps, Yelp, or other similar services, that allows you to search for nearby businesses, points of interest, or addresses based on a certain location.
- Use a mobile app like “AroundMe” that can quickly identify your location and allow you to search for nearby businesses, points of interest, or addresses based on your current location
- Use a GIS (Geographic Information System) tool, such as ArcGIS Online, QGIS, or similar, that allows you to measure the distance, and area and create buffer zones around a location.
- Use a specialized proximity API, such as OpenCage, GeoIQ, or similar, that allows you to programmatically check the proximity of a location to a specific point of reference.
Safety and crime rate
Crime rates and statistics can vary depending on the location and can often be found on the website of the local police department or sheriff’s office. Additionally, some cities and states also have publicly available crime data on their official government websites.
The FBI also provides a database of crime statistics, known as the Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) program, which allows users to search for crime data by state, city, and county.
There are a few ways to find good schools in a specific area:
- GreatSchools is a website that provides school ratings and reviews for schools across the United States.
- The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) is a government website that provides a wealth of data on schools, including test scores, graduation rates, and student demographics.
- Check with your local school district or state education department for information on schools in your area.
- You can also look for local parenting groups or community organizations that may have information about schools in the area.
- Visit schools in person and talk to the staff, teachers, and parents to get a sense of the school’s culture, curriculum, and extracurricular activities.
- It’s also important to consider your child’s individual needs and preferences when choosing a school. Some students may thrive in a traditional academic environment, while others may prefer a more hands-on or alternative learning experience.
Many online platforms like the Homesearch Portal provide school grading based on the area in which you are interested buying your new home.
After you buy your dream home, here are some tips on how to increase its value:
Consider the potential risks from natural disasters such as floods, earthquakes, and hurricanes. There are a few ways to check for natural hazards near your new home
- Visit the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) website to find information about natural hazards in your area, including flood zones, wildfire risk, and earthquakes.
- Check with your state’s emergency management agency for information about natural hazards in your area.
- The USGS (United States Geological Survey) is a good resource for information about earthquakes, volcanic activity, and other geologic hazards.
- The National Weather Service (NWS) provides information on severe weather hazards such as hurricanes, tornadoes, and floods.
- Look for local news reports, alerts, and community information sessions that can provide information about natural hazards in your area.
- Visit the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) website to find information about coastal hazards such as hurricanes and tsunamis.
- Check with your local fire department or forestry service for information about wildfire risk in your area.
- You can also check with your insurance company; they often have a lot of information about natural hazards in your area.
It’s important to learn of the potential hazards in the area where your new home is located and take steps to protect yourself and your property.
Take into account the level of noise from nearby roads, airports, and other sources. There are multiple places where you can check the noise level for your new home:
- Visit the location at different times of the day and week to get a sense of the typical noise level.
- Use a decibel meter app on your smartphone to measure the noise level at the location. This will give you a numerical reading of the noise level, which you can then compare to acceptable levels.
- Consult with local authorities, such as the city or county planning department, to see if there are any known sources of noise in the area, such as airports, highways, or industrial sites.
- Check with your local government. There is often a map of the noise level in the area.
- Check with the neighbors. They may have information about the noise level in the area.
- Contact acoustic engineers. They can perform a noise level assessment of the property, providing you with a detailed report of the noise level and potential noise sources.
Please note that noise levels can change depending on the time of day, weather conditions, and other factors. It’s also important to consider that what may be considered too noisy for one person may not be considered as such for another.
Consider the availability of public transportation, such as buses and trains, and the ease of getting around by car. Assessing the transportation score of your new home can help you determine how easily you will be able to access public transportation, as well as how convenient it will be to drive or bike to different destinations.
Here are a few ways to assess the transportation score of your new home:
- Check for nearby public transportation. Research the availability of the nearby bus or train lines. Check the schedules and routes to see how convenient it will be for you to access public transportation from your new home.
- Check the walkability score. Look up the walkability score of your new home’s neighborhood using websites like Walk Score. This score takes into account the availability of sidewalks and the proximity of amenities like grocery stores, restaurants, and parks.
- Check the bikeability score. Check the bikeability score of your new home’s neighborhood using websites like Bike Score. This score takes into account the availability of bike lanes and the steepness of the terrain.
- Check the Traffic. Drive around the area during different times of the day to get an idea of the traffic patterns and congestion. Look for alternative routes to and from your new home, in case of traffic congestion.
- Check for car-sharing services. Research the availability of car-sharing services like Zipcar or Car2Go in the area. This can be a convenient and cost-effective option for those who don’t own a car.
- Check for bike-sharing services. Research the availability of bike-sharing services in the area. This can be a great option for short trips and running errands.
- Check for parking availability. Look into parking options in the area, including on-street parking, public parking garages, and private parking options.
- Ask locals. Talk to locals, like your neighbors and people working in the area, they may have more information about the transportation in the area, and they may have tips and tricks that you may not have considered.
Look into any plans for future development in the area, such as new housing developments or shopping centers, which may affect property values. If the area where you are looking has attractive projects coming up, it may positively affect the value of your new home.
There are a few ways to check what developments are coming in your area:
- Check with your local government, such as the city or county planning department. This department should have information on upcoming developments in the area, including building permits, zoning changes, and other development proposals.
- Visit your city or county website. They may have a section dedicated to upcoming developments, construction projects, or plans for the area.
- Check with the local Chamber of Commerce.
- Look for local news reports and alerts.
- Check with real estate agents. Usually, local agents have the most knowledge of upcoming developments and how they may impact the local housing market.
- Check with developers directly. Many developers have websites and some post information about their upcoming developments.
- Look for public notices of upcoming developments, such as notices in local newspapers, or public meetings where developers will present their plans.
It is important to note that developments can change over time, and the information may not be accurate or up-to-date. It’s also a good idea to keep an eye on local news sources, as they will often report on developments as they happen.
If you enjoy outdoor activities, consider the availability of parks, hiking trails, and other recreational opportunities in the area.
There are a few ways to find recreational spaces in your area:
- Check with your local government, such as the city or county parks and recreation department. They will have information on parks, playgrounds, sports fields, hiking trails, swimming pools, and other recreational spaces in the area.
- Visit your city or county website.
- Check with your local community center.
- Look for local news reports and alerts. They often have information on recreational spaces and activities in the area.
- Check with local outdoor clubs or organizations, such as hiking, biking, or running groups.
- Use a map service such as Google Maps or OpenStreetMap.
- Use recreational space finder mobile apps such as “MapMyRun” or “AllTrails” that can help you find trails, parks, and other recreational spaces near you.
- Visit the National Parks Service website for information about national parks, monuments, and other recreational spaces near you.
It’s important to note that recreational spaces can change over time, and the information may not be accurate or up-to-date. It’s also a good idea to check the official website or contact the organization directly to confirm the information.
If you are unsure if you should buy and renovate or build a new home in 2023, read our article:
Local Building Codes
If you plan to do a major renovation or add an addition to your home, you should check the local building codes to verify that there are no restrictions on what you plan to do.
When searching for a new home, it is important to consider affordability in order to ensure that you are able to comfortably afford the home and its associated costs. Some key factors to consider in terms of affordability include the following:
Determine how much you can afford to spend on a home. Take into account your income, debts, and other financial obligations.
Consider the current mortgage interest rates and how they may affect your monthly payments while buying a home.
Determining how much you should spend on a new home includes several factors to consider:
- Understand your financial situation and what you can afford. Before you start looking for a new home, it’s important to have a clear understanding of your financial situation, including your income, expenses, and credit score. This will help you determine how much you can afford to spend on a new home.
- Get pre-approved for a mortgage. Getting pre-approved for a mortgage can help you understand how much you can borrow and what your monthly payments will be. This will give you a clear idea of what price range you should be looking in.
- Determine the costs of buying a home. Buying a home involves more than just the purchase price. You’ll also need to factor in closing costs, property taxes, home insurance, and any repairs or renovations that may be needed.
- Consider the location. The location of your new home will also impact the overall cost. Homes in more desirable areas tend to be more expensive.
- Consider the size and features of the home. The size and features of the home you’re looking for will also impact the overall cost. A larger home with more amenities will cost more than a smaller, more basic home.
- Be realistic. Be realistic about what you can afford and what you are willing to compromise on. It’s important to stick to your budget and not overspend.
- Get help. Consider working with a real estate agent or a financial advisor to help you navigate the process and ensure that you stay within your budget.
It’s important to keep in mind that the budget for a new home is not only the price of the property but also all the costs associated with buying and owning a house. It’s also important to have a buffer for unexpected expenses that may arise.
Determine how much of a down payment you can afford to make, and research the different types of mortgages available to you.
There are several factors to consider when determining the down payment for a new home:
- Understand how much you can afford. Before you start looking for a new home, it’s important to have a clear understanding of your financial situation and what you can afford.
- Get pre-approved for a mortgage. Mortgage pre-approval will help you understand how much you can borrow and what your monthly payments will be. This will give you a general idea of what size down payment you will need.
- Consider the type of loan. The type of loan you choose will impact the size of the down payment required. Conventional loans typically require a larger down payment than government-backed loans such as FHA or VA loans.
- Look into down payment assistance programs. There are various down payment assistance programs available, both from the government and from private organizations. These programs can help you come up with the funds for a down payment.
- Consider your credit score. Your credit score will also impact the size of the down payment required. A higher credit should allow you to qualify for a smaller down payment.
- Be realistic. Be realistic about what you can afford and what you are willing to compromise on. It’s important to stick to your budget and not overspend.
- Get help. Consider working with a real estate agent or a mortgage broker to help you navigate the process and ensure that you stay within your budget.
Be aware of the costs associated with closing on a home, such as lender fees, appraisal fees, title insurance, and attorney fees. There are various fees and expenses that constitute the closing costs amount.
Here are some steps that could help you calculate closing costs:
- Understand the types of fees involved. Closing costs typically include lender fees, title and escrow fees, government recording and transfer fees, and prepaid items such as property taxes and insurance.
- Get a Good Faith Estimate (GFE) from your lender. A GFE is an estimate of the closing costs provided by the lender. It will provide you with an idea of what you’ll need to pay at closing.
- Get an estimate of title and escrow fees. Title and escrow fees can vary depending on your location and the type of property you’re buying. Contact a title or escrow company for an estimate of these fees.
- Get an estimate of government recording and transfer fees. Government recording and transfer fees can vary depending on your location and the type of property you’re buying. Contact your local government for an estimate of these fees.
- Get an estimate of prepaid items such as property taxes and insurance. These expenses will vary depending on the property and your location. Contact your lender or insurance company for an estimate of these costs.
- Add up all the fees. Add up all the fees you’ve gathered to get a rough estimate of your closing costs.
- Get a HUD-1 Settlement Statement. This document is provided by the lender, and it itemizes all the closing costs and prepaid items, and the final breakdown of how much you’ll need to bring to closing.
- Compare the estimates and the HUD-1. Compare the estimates you’ve gathered with the HUD-1 Settlement Statement to make sure everything is accurate, and you understand all the costs.
Research the property tax rate in the area you are considering and factor that into your budget.
Here are a few steps to help you calculate property taxes:
- Understand the tax rate. Property taxes are calculated based on the assessed value of the property and the local tax rate. The tax rate can vary depending on your location, so it’s important to find out what the tax rate is in your area.
- Find the assessed value of the property. The assessed value is the value of the property as determined by the local government for the purpose of calculating property taxes. You can find out what assessed value of a property by contacting the local tax assessor’s office or by looking up the property on the county property records website.
- Calculate the taxes. Once you have the assessed value and the local tax rate, you can calculate the property taxes by multiplying the assessed value by the tax rate.
- Check for any tax exemptions. Some properties may be eligible for tax exemptions, such as those for veterans, senior citizens, or properties with low incomes. Contact the local tax assessor’s office to see if you qualify for any exemptions.
- Check for any special assessments. Some properties may be subject to special assessments for things like street improvements or other local projects. These assessments will be in addition to the regular property taxes.
- Check for any tax appeals. If you think that your home’s assessed value is incorrect, you may be able to appeal the value. Check with the local tax assessor’s office for information on the appeals process.
Consider the cost of homeowners insurance and ensure it is factored into your budget.
Here are a few tips that could help you calculate and help you learn how to save money on your home insurance:
- Understand the coverage you need. Home insurance typically includes coverage for the structure of your home, personal property, liability, and additional living expenses in case of a covered loss. Decide which coverage options you need, as this will affect the cost of your insurance.
- Get quotes from multiple insurance companies. Compare quotes from several insurance companies to get an idea of the cost of coverage. Keep in mind that insurance companies use different methods to calculate rates, so the cost can vary significantly.
- Consider the location and age of your home. The location and age of your home can affect the cost of insurance. Homes in areas with high risks of natural disasters or crime may be more expensive to insure.
- Consider the value of your home and personal property. The value of your home and personal property will also affect the cost of insurance.
- Consider any additional coverage options. Additional coverage options such as flood insurance, earthquake insurance, or umbrella insurance may be necessary, depending on your location and risk.
- Ask about discounts. Many insurance companies offer discounts for things like security systems, smoke detectors, and multiple policies. Ask about any discounts that may be available to you.
- Compare the policies. Once you have all the quotes, compare the policies to ensure that you understand the coverage and the cost.
Maintenance and repairs
Be prepared for unexpected expenses such as repairs and maintenance. If you indeed buy a home that needs some minor repairs done, a great place to start is Homescala’s Renovation Portal. On the portal, you can easily plan and organize your renovation stress-free.
You will find the best deals for materials, contact contractors, calculate your renovation cost, can even get inspiration for your renovation. On top of that, you will see which items will bring you the highest ROI as well as what is your home’s value pre-renovation and what will be your home’s value post-renovation.
Homeowners association fees
If the property is part of some homeowners association, be aware of any associated monthly or annual fees.
Think about future expenses that may arise, like school fees, transportation costs, and other expenses associated with your lifestyle choices.
By taking these factors into account, you can ensure that you are able to afford your new home and its associated costs comfortably. You should also consult with a financial advisor before you proceed with your purchase.
When buying a new home, it’s important to consider the condition of the home to ensure that it is a sound investment. Some key factors to consider include the following:
Have a professional home inspector conduct a thorough inspection of the home to identify any potential issues, such as structural problems, electrical or plumbing issues, and pest infestations.
Below, you can find a few reasons why you should order a home inspection before you purchase your new home:
- A home inspection helps to identify potential safety and structural issues before starting renovations
- Ensures that repairs and upgrades meet local building codes and standards
- A qualified home inspector can spot potential problems such as foundational damage, faulty wiring, mold growth, defective plumbing systems, and structural flaws
- Having a detailed report of any issues helps to prevent costly mistakes that could lead to further damage in the future.
- Your lender may require a copy.
Age and wear and tear
Consider the age of the home and the amount of wear and tear it has undergone. An older home may require more maintenance and repairs.
Upgrades and renovations
Look for any upgrades and renovations that have been made to the home, and consider whether they have been done professionally and meet current building codes.
Look for energy-efficient features such as energy-efficient windows, appliances, and HVAC systems, and consider the overall energy efficiency of the home.
Learn more about energy efficiency affects your home value from our article on the topic:
Health and safety concerns
Look for any health and safety concerns, such as mold, lead-based paint, and asbestos. If there are health and safety concerns when purchasing a new home, it is important to address them as soon as possible.
Some steps you can take include:
- Review the home inspection report. The inspector should have identified any health and safety concerns during the inspection. Review the report and make sure you understand the issues that were identified.
- Get additional inspections. If the inspector did not address a specific concern, such as mold or lead paint, you may want to get additional inspections.
- Negotiate with the seller. If the concerns are significant, you may want to negotiate with the seller to have them address the issues before closing on the home.
- Make repairs. If the concerns are not addressed by the seller, you may need to have repairs made after closing. This can be done by hiring a contractor or other professional to address the issues.
- Consult with a lawyer. If you have concerns about the legal responsibilities of the seller or the real estate agent, it may be helpful to talk with a lawyer who specializes in real estate law.
Also, keep in mind that your lender may require the seller to correct certain health or safety hazards in your home prior to the purchase.
Consider whether the home is located in an area that is known for natural disasters such as floods, earthquakes, or hurricanes.
Check the foundation of the home for any cracks, leaks, or other issues. These repairs may be very expensive, and it is best if they are addressed before the purchase of your new home. By taking these factors into account, you can ensure that the home you choose is in good condition and a sound investment.
It’s also important to note that even with a home inspection, it’s not guaranteed that all the issues will be detected, and sometimes it’s recommended to have specialized inspections like pest inspection, or radon testing.
Size and Layout
When searching for a new home, it’s essential to consider the size and also the layout of the home to ensure that it meets your current and future needs. Some key factors to consider in terms of size and layout while buying a home include the following:
Number of bedrooms and bathroom
Consider the number of bedrooms and bathrooms that you need to accommodate your family and guests.
Think about the size of the living room, dining room, and other common areas and whether they are large enough to accommodate your family and guests.
Kitchen size and layout
Consider the size of the kitchen, the number of cabinets and counter space, and the layout of the appliances to ensure that it meets your cooking and entertaining needs.
Look for homes with ample storage space, such as walk-in closets, pantries, and attics.
The flexibility of the layout
Consider whether the home’s layout can be easily modified to accommodate your changing needs.
Look for additional features such as a fireplace, a home office, a laundry room, and a garage.
Consider if the home has outdoor space such as a yard, patio, or balcony and if it meets your needs.
Age of the house
Consider the age of the house, whether it’s new or old, and what kind of upgrades or renovations it may need.
Look for energy-efficient features such as energy-efficient windows, appliances, and HVAC systems.
By taking these factors into account, you can ensure that the home you choose is the right size and layout for your family and lifestyle. It’s also important to have a general idea of what you are looking for. Knowing what you want can save a lot of time and energy while buying a home.
When buying a new home, it’s important to consider the potential resale value of the property. Some factors that can affect resale value include:
Homes in desirable neighborhoods generally have a higher resale value than those in less desirable areas.
Size and layout
Homes with a good layout and ample square footage will typically have a higher resale value than smaller or poorly laid-out homes.
Homes that are well-maintained and in good condition will generally have a higher resale value than those that are in need of repairs or updates.
Upgrades and amenities
Homes that have been recently updated or have desirable amenities, such as a pool or updated kitchen, will generally have a higher resale value than those that do not.
It’s also important to consider the overall housing market in the area, as well as any upcoming developments or changes that could potentially impact resale value. Consulting with a real estate agent can also be helpful in assessing the resale potential of a specific property.
Hire a good realtor
When searching for a realtor to help you with buying a home, there are a few crucial factors to consider:
Look for a realtor with experience in the area where you’re looking to buy and a track record of successful home sales.
Realtors should be licensed by the state in which they work, and many are also members of professional organizations such as the National Association of Realtors (NAR).
Your realtor should be responsive, easy to get in touch with, and able to explain the buying process to you clearly.
Local market knowledge
It is helpful to find a realtor who is knowledgeable about the local market, including current trends and conditions and can provide you with valuable insights.
You want a realtor who has good negotiation skills, who can negotiate the best deal for you, and who can also help you get your offer accepted in a competitive market.
It’s important to find a realtor whom you feel comfortable working with and who understands your needs and preferences. It’s also a good idea to ask for references and speak with past clients to understand the realtor’s experience and effectiveness.
It is important to act quickly when buying a home, as the real estate market can be highly competitive, and properties can sell quickly. It’s a good idea to be pre-approved for a mortgage before starting your search. Once you find the perfect home that you are interested in, it’s important to move quickly and make an offer. It is also important to have a realtor who can help you navigate the buying process and assist you in making a competitive offer.
If you are not sure where to start searching for a home, Homescala’s HomeSearch Portal is the right place. On the portal, you can search for properties by area or by address; you will find pricing for the properties, their investment potential, and even their rental potential. You can calculate the resale value of the property as well as find out what the closing costs will be. We don’t even have to mention that you will get all the correct information for the property, such as the year built, the total size of the property, the number of bathrooms, the basement condition, and the most recent images of the property. You will get everything you need in order to make an informed decision about what will be the perfect home for you.
In conclusion, buying a home is a major decision that requires careful consideration and research. Considering factors such as location, size, condition, and cost can be crucial for your decision.
By ordering a home inspection, you can discover any problems with the condition of the home and address any repairs that may need to be performed.
It is also important to have a clear understanding of your budget and financing options, as well as to be aware of any potential hidden costs or unforeseen expenses. Additionally, it is important to have a good understanding of the housing market and to work with a real estate agent who is knowledgeable and experienced.