Finding a style and location right for you
Finding the right home — in the right neighborhood — takes a lot of time. You have many things to consider. Do you want a home with a big yard or a condo in a high-rise? Do you want to live in a great school district or be close to nightlife or other attractions?
Before deciding between an existing home and a new construction, know the risks and benefits of the two.
You may be faced with the decision of whether to update an older home or buy a newly constructed one.
How much home can you afford?
Take the first step and get prequalified.
Study the types of homes that you can choose from, as well as what the neighborhood offers as you weigh your options.
You have some choices when it comes to the style of your home, each with different benefits. These include:
A single-family home
This is often the most private home you can buy. It’s free standing with its own surrounding lot. It can vary greatly in size, number of rooms and layout.
In this type, you generally share a wall or another structure with an adjoining unit, so it's not as private. You own the space and pay taxes on just your unit. A management company typically maintains the exterior and yard, and you share the maintenance costs through homeowners association fees.
Planned Unit Developments (PUDs)
These are usually freestanding houses with yards, but there may be rules to follow on the appearance of your house and yard. You typically pay homeowners association fees for maintenance and/or security.
Housing cooperatives (or Co-ops)
These are essentially corporations that own a building with multiple units. When you buy a share in the corporation, you buy the right to live in a unit. A management company takes care of maintenance.
Finding the right neighborhood is important in your homebuying decision. You want to like the home, but also the people and surroundings. Here are some items for you to consider:
Research the local public schools if you have kids or hope to. Your real estate agent can tell how the schools are rated, where they’re located and how they’re viewed by the community. Plus, you can find plenty of information online.
Discuss how safe the neighborhood is with your real estate agent. Are there many crimes? If so, what kind? Would you feel safe taking your family for a walk? You can research crime reports online or call your local law enforcement.
Study how long your commute to work will be. Are the streets around your house busy, especially in rush hour? Does the traffic make your neighborhood noisy? You’ll want to see how timely it is to get to work or run everyday errands, such as to the grocery.
Get a pulse of the neighborhood to see if it’s the right fit for you. Is it quiet? Are there children playing? How much traffic is on your street? You may want to talk with residents to get a feel of the neighborhood.