Buying a home is often an incredibly complicated process, especially if you’re buying your very first house. While many people are at least vaguely aware of the basic steps from initial shopping to finding a mortgage, some of the finer details can be easily overlooked. These smaller factors can make a surprisingly large impact when you’re shopping for your home, so be sure to go through this list before you settle on your future home.
How Much House Do You Need?
When you first start your initial shopping for a home, it’s easy to focus only on your immediate housing needs. Make sure that no matter what your current situation is, you’re still accounting for future changes that could impact how much space you need in your home. If you’re buying a home with your partner, is there any chance you’ll need space for pets or children in the future? The number of new mothers in the U.S. has increased within the last decade, so it’s entirely possible that in several years you’ll need an extra bedroom for your growing family. Look for a home that can grow with you and your family in the future, or you might find yourself shopping again sooner than you’d like.
How Much Stuff Do You Have?
In addition to the number of people and pets in your home, you should keep in mind just how much you own currently that will need to be moved into your future house. The average annual percentage of Americans who move is 11.2% (around 35.1 million people), and it’s incredibly rare that someone moves without any belongings to account for. If you’re buying a home after living in a small apartment, you’ll likely have some extra items to purchase to fully settle in your home. Furniture alone is projected to represent 13.6% of all e-commerce sales in 2021. That’s a lot of stuff going into new spaces. Regardless of what you need, it’s important to make sure you’re looking for a living space that’s sized to your lifestyle.
How Much House Can You Afford?
While, in theory, it might be better to look for a larger home that can accommodate all future changes, most people can’t afford to shop for an incredibly large home. Make sure you budget before you start your shopping so you’re looking at homes you can realistically afford. That being said, just because you can’t afford a larger down payment doesn’t mean you’ll be stuck with a tiny home. To get an FHA loan for a mortgage with a down payment as low as 3.5%, the borrower needs a credit score of 580 or higher. Those with credit scores between 500 and 579 must make down payments of at least 10%. Even if you can’t save up a full 20% down payment, there are options available to make your home purchase possible, especially as a first-time buyer.
Have You Counted All The Costs?
Did you know that without proper insulation, 20% of every dollar spent on heating your home literally escapes through the roof? That’s one of the limitless little things that stack up long-term costs. When shopping for your first home, keep in mind that the listing price doesn’t accurately reflect these costs. With the initial purchase itself, you’ll have to contend with closing fees, home inspections, and other hidden costs that can push you over budget. Unfortunately, that’s not the end of the added costs – you’ll still have property taxes and utilities to pay for. If future costs are a concern, look for a home that can help you reduce future spending through energy efficiency. For example, a metal roof can easily help save as much as 25% off of your annual home energy bill. Not all homes will have energy-efficient features, so keep an eye out for these elements of a potential future home.
Home buying is a challenge no matter how experienced you are with the real estate market. If you’re searching for your first home, keep these issues in mind during your shopping to ensure you find a home that’s right for you and your lifestyle.