After you’ve got your financial ducks in a row by boosting your credit score and determining your monthly budget, it is time to figure out what you want (and need) in a first home.
Determine Your (Realistic) Must-Haves
While it is important to purchase a home you love (it is a huge investment, after all), it is also important to be realistic about what you can afford and what is available. To do this, determine what is important to you in a home and make a definitive list.
For example, is location a make-or-break box on your must-haves list? Can you commute a little bit longer to work for the ideal home, or would you compromise on housing details if your job is located only a few minutes away?
If you have children or are planning on living in this home when starting a family, a spacious backyard may top the list. If outdoor space isn’t as important, maybe natural light or a large dining room that you can entertain in is.
Decide Whether You Want Something Turnkey or a Fixer-Upper?
Within reason of your budget, are you looking for a turnkey, ready-to-move-in property or a fixer-upper that can be personalized over time?
If you’re someone who enjoys doing projects, a fixer-upper may be a great option. If you prefer to not worry about upgrading the kitchen flooring or installing new sinks, then a turnkey home may be best for you.
Take Advantage of Open Houses
Whether in person or virtually, attend as many open houses as you can. Take note of small details in the home and ask about the plumbing, HVAC, and electrical systems.
Attending many different open houses can help you get a sense of what is being offered in a specific area, within your price range.