In the United States, moving season seems to peak in the beginning of April, and wind down by the end of September. Each year, over 40 million people move in our country each year, and the majority of those moves are happening right now.
If you’re getting ready to buy a home, there are many factors to consider. And there are a lot of different options, too. Choosing the right home type can be challenging if you’ve never had to do it before. Would a single-family home be best for you? How about an apartment? Or a cozy condo or townhome? When there are so many options and the options are so different, making a decision can feel overwhelming. But the decision is in the details. By answering a few questions, you can narrow down your options until you find the right one.
At any given time, there may be millions of homes on the market to choose from. In 2019, 5.34 million existing homes and 682,000 newly constructed homes were sold. Finding the right home in the millions of available options gets much easier when you take some time to decide what’s important to you before you start your search. Here are some of the most important factors to consider:
When you start your search, most websites (like Zillow and Realtor) will let you enter in a price range. Depending on how much you want to spend (or get pre-approved for by your lender), this can drastically cut down the number of options that pop up. You can also use the free mortgage calculators on these sites to see what your monthly payments will look like based on the purchase price, down payment, private mortgage insurance, and taxes in the area. Try to leave some wiggle room for additional expenses like moving and closing costs and repairs.
Most of us won’t be searching for multi-million-dollar homes, so we might as well cut them out and keep the search to what’s realistic and affordable. This factor alone can eliminate dozens of options so you’re not searching through full pages of homes that are out of your price range. If you haven’t narrowed down your price range yet, you can always adjust the numbers as you go and see what comes up. Now is also a great time to consider how a home purchase will change your expenses when you’re working on setting a budget (or adjusting an existing one).
Most home buyers will know the state, city, or even ZIP code that they want to buy in. But don’t forget to consider the smaller details of the location. If you have young kids, a home on a main road may not be the best option. The same is true if you want to be able to safely walk or bike around the neighborhood. Think about how far the schools are, grocery stores, and other amenities. Are there parks close by? Is the neighborhood family-friendly? These details may seem small now but they can feel bigger later.
Another detail you can use to narrow down your search is the number of bedrooms and bathrooms you need. The size of your home is one of the most important factors in the search. If you have kids or if you plan on having them later, do they each need their own room? Can they share? Do you need a guest bedroom for frequent visitors or is there an additional space that can serve as a temporary extra bedroom? Similar questions apply to the bathrooms. Do you have multiple teenagers trying to get ready and out the door each morning? Including the number of bedrooms and bathrooms you need in your search will cut the list down further.
Are you someone who cooks each meal at home or would you rather dine out whenever you can? If you prefer cooking yourself (or someone you live with does), look for options on your narrowed down list that include spacious kitchens and appliances that suit your needs. The appliances don’t have to be perfect, last-season models. You can always update these one at a time over the years. But if the kitchen is way too small, that may be harder to fix. And if you have a big family or frequent visitors, you may want to choose one with a dining room. The extra space will come in handy when you’re hosting or eating family dinners together. As a bonus, dining rooms can be repurposed later if you end up not using it as often as you’d anticipated.
By now, you’ve entered your general location, price range, and the preferred number of bedrooms and bathrooms into whatever online home finder that you are using. You’ve examined kitchens, dining rooms, and neighborhoods, too. With all of these details considered, your search parameters likely narrowed you down to the right home type already. The last thing to consider is the outdoor space. If you want a big yard for kids to play in, a garden to grow, or yard games for summer gatherings, you can eliminate condos and townhomes. A traditional home is probably the right choice for you.
But if you’re uninterested in outdoor space and you’d rather have less to maintain, apartments, condos, and townhomes may be where you should focus your search. If your search hasn’t already identified the right type for you based on the process of elimination, you can enter the home type you like into the search engine and narrow it down one last time.
We’d be remiss if we didn’t take some time to remind our readers of the importance of staying safe and healthy if choosing to move during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. The entire process of moving will likely require extra precautionary measures to keep you and your loved one safe, especially if you are using an external moving partner.
To stay safe and lessen your risks for contracting or spreading coronavirus, consider these quick tips: