Which criteria should you consider in your house hunt?
Deciding what you want and need in your next home? Here are some tips, guide and checklist with what to consider.
As you start your home buying journey, you probably have a dream property in mind But during the long process of searching for the perfect home, you’ll be required to whittle down your preferences to prioritize your needs above the things you merely want.
Here’s a quick overview of the important aspects that no buyer can afford to ignore to help narrow down your search criteria and get ready for some serious house hunting.
The listing price
Looking at homes outside your price range is pointless. Every buyer needs a solid understanding of the budget they can muster.
Your mortgage is determined by your current financial circumstances and debts you might be paying. Affordability calculators can help you get your numbers in order before looking at potential listings. Once you have a realistic budget in mind, you'll spend more time heading straight to properties inside your reachable target price and far less time checking out homes that are way too expensive.
The type of property
Residential properties comes in all shapes and sizes, so it’s essential to know what you’re going to be gunning for. These are the main categories of residential properties:
Detached houses: These are houses that come with land and are not attached to any surrounding neighbouring buildings. It gives you supreme privacy regarding noise and some form of outdoor space on all sides of the house. As the sole owner of the property, you have complete responsibility for maintenance and repairs.
Townhouses: Like the detached properties, a townhouse has a sole owner who is responsible for all maintenance. Townhouses are attached to a neighbouring house which means at least one wall is shared with another property. This generally results in less privacy and outdoor space compared to a fully detached home.
Condos: When you buy a condo, you’re essentially buying the interior of an apartment unit, and a stake in the apartment building. You’ll then have to pay fees that pay towards the maintenance of the building and upkeep of any common areas like gardens, gyms or other facilities.
The location and community
Location is vital. Where you live determines the people, places, sounds, sights and lifestyle you’ll experience every day. On top of this, location can also prove to have a significant bearing on the property’s value over the coming years if the neighbourhood is on the rise.
Choosing a location is choosing the lifestyle you wish to lead during the time you live there. You'll want to check local schools if you have children, the nearest parks, surrounding stores and the position of local authorities and emergency services. Every amenity you’ll need on a daily basis or in the most crucial circumstances should be looked up and rated.
The best way to know an area is spending some quality time in it yourself. Walk through the neighbourhood at different times during the day, check out what the local papers or council are talking about in recent posts and talk to locals to see what they think of the area.
The local schools
This is an essential factor if you have children or plan on having some in the near future. Schools can be a great indicator of the status of a community. And the better the local school, the better the odds that your property will sustain or grow in value over time. Even if you don’t plan on having children, neighbourhoods with a safe and family-friendly vibe are a great option.
The home layout
During your house hunt, nail down the physical features you’re looking for as soon as possible. All for-sale home listings should present you with a cost per square-foot. This is one of the best ways to compare your options in terms of the space you get for your money. Think about these key physical features and see which options are crucial for you:
The garden: More land comes with higher costs and maintenance. Do you need the space or will a smaller patch of outdoor space suit your needs just as well?
Parking: Need a garage? Or can you get by with street parking? How often are you going to use your car? Will the weather in your location call for the shelter of a garage?
Sports: Do you need a home gym or pool? Or could you instead look for a property close to local sports facilities?
Views: Do you dream of coastal scenes, the vibrancy of the city or do you prefer the peace of inland country?
Space: Do you love open space interiors or will you enjoy the coziness of a smaller setting day by day?
Most people will find that a home search becomes more about making compromises and trade-off desires than just ticking boxes. This is why it’s helpful to pin down what you need over the extras you can realistically do without.
The potential for renovation
If you’re keen on putting the work and time into the renovation, your options might open up. Many properties can be added to your pool of prospects if you’re willing to add the features you want once you’ve moved in.
Does the thought of rolling up your sleeves and getting busy with some DIY sound exciting? If not, maybe stick to new builds and be realistic about your expectations.
Take all the factors above into consideration and nail down your most important desires. You’ll be tackling the main challenge of house hunting: sorting your criteria and identifying the things you can't live without. A good understanding of the lifestyle you plan to live before starting your search will make it far easier. Start your search today!