When you feel that the time is right and you’re ready to start your search, be sure to make a list of everything you want and need in home and neighborhood.
Choosing a Neighborhood
As you consider your housing choices, also strongly consider your neighborhood options. The neighborhood you live in is as important as the house itself.
Is it important that you live close to work? Keep in mind short commutes limit your neighborhood options.
Do you prefer country, suburban or urban living?
If you have children, is the neighborhood in a good school district? Do you need to live near other family members?
Do you want to live close to your church or temple? What entertainment venues are nearby?
Future Zoning and Development
Is the park behind your house going to be developed in the future? Does this community have plans to build a large attraction of some sort?
What will the neighborhood look like in 10 years? Are you satisfied with an older neighborhood? Are you content with potential changes your neighborhood could make?
Time of Day
Does the neighborhood feel the same at night as it does during the day? Is weekend traffic heavier than during the weekday?
Can you afford the county or city taxes or any homeowners association fees?
What are the homeowner’s association rules? Are they good for protecting home values?
Have the homes in this neighborhood held or increased in value?
Talk to the people who live in the neighborhoods in which you are interested. These individuals will know the most about the area and are your potential neighbors. More than anything, you'll want a neighborhood where you feel at home.
Choosing the Type of Home You Want to Live In
Type of Housing
While there are a good number of housing styles out there, each one provides unique features. The type of house you choose will depend greatly on your lifestyle and personal goals.
With the purchase of a single-family home, homebuyers acquire ownership of the home as well as the surrounding lot. All maintenance expenses and property taxes would be the homeowner's responsibility. Of all housing choices, this one typically provides the most privacy and flexibility.
In purchasing a condo, the buyer owns the areas within the walls of the living space but not the surrounding lot of land or building. Typically, a condo is governed by guidelines from a homeowner's association. These associations require monthly dues or annual fees (which are not tax deductible). In turn, the condo owner does not hold sole responsibility for repairs and maintenance to the unit and has access to property management services. Condo units are evaluated individually to determine property taxes (which are the condo owner's responsibility and are tax deductible*).
Planned Unit Development
Also called a PUD, a Planned Unit Development is structured so that the buyer not only owns the house and the surrounding lot, but the person also purchases and owns a portion of common space that is shared with others that live in the development. These common areas are maintained through the homeowner's association. As with condos and co-ops, these fees are not tax deductible.*
*Please consult with your tax advisor or attorney to discuss your specific situation.
Choosing the Features of the Home
What features in a home are important to me?
Before you begin your search for a home, make a list of all the qualities you want in your home. Things like paint or new carpet are easily changed before or after you move in. Look for features that are already part of the home’s construction and design. Think about:
- Would you like a one or two-story home?
- How many bedrooms would you like? Will that change in the future?
- How many bathrooms do you need?
- Do you need a garage?
- Do you want a big yard or a small one?
- Do you want a pool?