Ask Three Little Questions Before Buying a House

by : Joe Samson

Shopping for a house can be an overwhelming experience. There are so many factors to consider, it's easy to fill your head and become frustrated. One simple mental exercise can help get through this storm of emotions and help you focus on what you really want. Before you go out shopping consider the following three questions:

Where do you want to live?

Think about what type of needs you have and what sort of location will help facilitate your lifestyle. If you have kids, are there schools nearby, and if so, what are they like? What sort of commute will you or your spouse have to work? If you won't be driving, where is the closest source of public transit?

Do you want to be close to friends and family? If you're planning on starting a family, will this new location be appropriate for your new lifestyle?

Think about these things to help get a mental picture of your needs in your new location.

What sort of home and features are you looking for?

The type of home you desire may be in part determined by your budget. A town house or semi-detached is usually less expensive than a single-family home. If you want extra space between you and your neighbours, one of the above may not be your ideal choice.

What do you want to see when you look out your window? Do you want a home with a view or some property? If you're the type that goes away for months at a time or desire a maintenance-free type of home, a condominium or townhouse may be your best bet.

Also going hand in hand with the type of home, is the type of features you're looking for in a house. Do you feel more comfortable in an open concept home with vaulted ceilings or do you like lots of divided rooms? How many bedrooms and bathrooms do you want? Does it matter whether the basement is finished or if your future home has a deck?

Make yourself a checklist of the most important features you desire, and rate the various houses as you walk through them. This will help you to remember which home had which feature. After spending an afternoon touring through houses, they all start to blend together.

How much can you afford?

You'll save yourself a lot of frustration by determining what price range you're comfortable with before you start shopping. It's so easy to get caught up in an emotional buy if you don't have a set of guidelines to follow. When deciding on a price range don't forget to factor in any upcoming events that may affect your budget, changes in employment or large purchases such as a car. Also add in closing costs which may be estimated at about 2% of the purchase price.

Make it easier on yourself by touring homes within your price range. It's also helpful to apply for a pre-qualified mortgage ahead of time, and you'll know exactly how much you can realistically afford.