When you’re deciding whether to leave the rent cycle and buy a new home, many factors compete for your attention. The financial one is the weightiest.
“Property taxes!” pundits, experts and media howl. “You don’t pay those as a renter.”
“Home maintenance costs!”
“You’ll lose money if you sell you home before you establish equity!”
Then there’s your financial health, the critical first step to becoming a new homeowner.
At some point you must form your own responses to the rhetoric above based on your life stage, age, career and family situation. Helping you do that is a major impetus behind our five-part Buying Versus Renting series.
In Part I, we offered a birds-eye view of the positives of home ownership. In Part 2, we walked through personal financial basics that form the foundation of any home purchase. In Part 3, we offered helpful tips to guide your search for a new home.
Let’s turn down the volume in Part 4. We won’t even mention math! How do you decide what kind of home you want to buy, and where to buy it? Read on.
Some of your decision gets made for you
This is true for most of us. We settle where we do because of careers, proximity to family or for temporary reasons such as attending graduate school. So you likely already know the general area where you’d buy a home — even if you’re on the cusp of switching careers and moving to the opposite coast.
City slicker or suburban commuter?
This is the lifestyle part of the equation. Do you work downtown? On the fringes of a major metropolitan area? Do you prefer small-town atmosphere yet need conveniences like a quick drive to the airport? Are you ready to buy a few acres for horses?
You have to answer all these questions and a ton more if you rent, too. But your answers are doubly important if you buy because you’re putting down roots. Establishing more permanence — and control over your living situation — is a big positive force behind buying. If you make a poor decision, you can’t write a check to break your lease and skip town as you might if you rent. So don’t skimp on these considerations.
Shop for a neighborhood too
A home is your main focus, but you also want schools, workplaces, shopping centers, houses of worship and recreational options a short walk or drive away. You also want to avoid heavy traffic, or an interstate roaring behind your home.
And you want to like your new neighborhood. Dig corner cafes? Bike trails? Volunteer opportunities? You’ll want to scout all this when you shop for a new home.
There are more choices than three beds and two baths
It’s the most common — and likely first — configuration we think of when we think “home.” The cliched three-bedroom, two-bathroom house that’s worked well for millions of people. But it’s hardly the only home-buying choice.
Townhouses, condominiums, urban lofts, high-rise co-ops or apartments you buy, not rent, in cities such as New York — all are examples of homes available for purchase.
You don’t have to have a lawn. You still can live in a maintenance-free community (hello, Florida condo) as you do in a rental, but own it instead.
In Part 5 of Buying Versus Renting, we’ll wrap up our top home-buying advice.
Ready to buy a new custom home? ICI Homes can help. Start here.