When it comes to buying a home, there are usually compromises that have to be made. Maybe you find a home that’s in the perfect location and price range, but it needs some renovating. Or maybe you find a home that’s the right price and size, but it’s going to add 15 minutes to your daily commute into work.
Everyone has to weigh their priorities when it comes to buying a home, because oftentimes people can’t quite check all of the boxes. There are definitely some compromises that are easier to make than others, and trade offs that make sense. However, there are a few things that you should definitely NOT compromise on when buying a home; here are our top 6:
1. Commute time.
Location ranks high when it comes to choosing the right home, and taking your commute into consideration is incredibly important. In 2015, the average American commute was 26.4 minutes, and the number of Americans with “extreme commutes” (90 minutes of more) is growing. The more time you spend getting to and from work, the less time you have to enjoy living in your new home!
Be honest with yourself about how far you are actually willing to commute day in and day out. If you find the “perfect” home but it’s a bit farther from work than you’d like, try out the commute one day. See if it’s doable or if you’re stuck in traffic for longer than you can put up with. Commute can have a big impact on your quality of life, and it’s not worth making a compromise that you ultimately won’t be able to live with.
2. Potential renovations.
Let’s say you find a home in the ideal location, for the ideal price, in the ideal neighborhood… but there’s just one catch. It needs a serious overhaul and renovations will definitely be necessary. You might start convincing yourself that you can take on a kitchen renovation, or maybe it won’t be that hard to redo all of the bathrooms… but be honest with yourself. Are you ready for the time, money, and energy that it takes to give your home a serious upgrade? Do you have the knowledge and resources to tackle the projects that will be necessary?
3. Structural integrity.
If a home you’re looking at has something fundamentally wrong with it (like a problematic foundation), run! Maybe it’s the deal of a lifetime, or in a location you’ve dreamed of. But dealing with structural issues can be incredibly expensive, and you don’t want to get stuck with a home that is not only unsafe and exorbitantly expensive to fix, but super challenging to sell again down the line.
If you find a home that has everything you want and need, but it’s just a *little* out of your range, it might be tempting to figure out how you can swing it. But is it worth stretching yourself to the point of financial discomfort? Do you have enough extra funds for emergencies, or home upgrades that might come up?
Even if you’re pre-approved for a certain amount, it doesn’t mean you have to spend it all. Figure out how much you’ll willing to pay upfront for your down payment, and how much you can handle paying each month for your mortgage. Don’t compromise your ability to do other things in life and have a financial safety net.
5. School district.
If you have kids (or are buying a home with the intention of having a family one day), taking a look at the school district you’re in is a major consideration. Do your research on schools—look up schools online, ask to take a tour of schools you’re interested in, ask neighbors how they like the local schools, and see if your real estate agent can get you more information on the local schools. The school your child attends can have a big impact on their life (and yours!), so once you find a school district you like, stand firm on this one!
The way the properties surrounding a home are maintained (or not!) can affect the resale value of other homes in the neighborhood. Do your neighbors care about maintaining their homes? When you go to tour the home, do the next door neighbors have a dog that’s constantly barking, and is that something that bothers you?
Once you move in, there are many things about the neighborhood that you won’t be able to change, so be sure to observe the area as a whole as you consider buying any particular home.
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