1. What lifestyle do you want?
There are many things to consider when buying a house—price, location, condition, size, schools, and more. We’ll walk through the trade-offs.
First, identify the core values and lifestyle most important to you. Perhaps you want a walkable, hyperlocal and eco-friendly urban lifestyle. Maybe you want a quiet, rural country life. Or perhaps you’re striving for a low-maintenance setup that’s conducive to frequent travel.
Imagine your ideal lifestyle, both today and a decade into the future, and use this as the basis for choosing the features you’d like in your home. Think about your ideal day-to-day life with regard to commuting and running errands, and also imagine how you want to spend your weekends and holidays.
- Would you like to stay home, or travel?
- Do you plan to host parties or large gatherings?
- How often will guests stay over?
- Would you and your spouse own one vehicle or two?
- Do you use public transport?
- Does one of you work from home?
The answers to questions like these will impact your home preferences. Here are several qualities in a new home you should consider.
- Bedroom - Consider the number of bedrooms that you may need within the next decade. Do you plan to add to your family, or do you expect an empty nest? Might an older relative need in-home care? Any room that contains a closet and a form of ingress and egress for fire safety, such as a window, meets the definition of a bedroom. You may also want to buy a house with bedrooms that you use for purposes other than sleeping. For example, you may also want space for an office, gym, or hobby room.
- Bathrooms - Additional beds and baths can boost the value of a home, too. The increase depends on the market where the home is located, as well as the home’s existing value. For example, wood floors and a pool tend to have a bigger increase in the value of more expensive homes, while bathroom and kitchen remodel tend to add more value for lower to mid-priced homes.
- Storage - Consider how much space you need. Do you need a two-car garage, or might a car-port suffice? Do you have an accessible basement, attic, garage or tool shed? Does your dream home include space for hobbies? Home repairs and maintenance require tools and storage too, especially if you plan on tackling bigger projects yourself.
- Stairs - If anyone in your family has mobility issues, or you plan to age in your home, consider whether you want a house with stairs. If an entryway includes stairs, you may not be able to accommodate guests with physical limitations. You may want a home that features at least one bedroom on the ground floor for similar reasons.
- Privacy and noise - Toddler parents might want to sleep close to their children’s rooms, while teen parents might enjoy the idea of kids and their stereo speakers in the basement. Furthermore, if the home is located near a busy street, highway, college campus, or nightlife district, how much noise will seep into the space? Consider the home layout with regard to both noise and privacy: Would noise from the living room or the busy streets leak into the bedrooms? Can neighbours peer into the bathroom?
- Efficiency - Consider how much monthly budget you can allocate for utilities. Your real estate agent can ask the seller for copies of utility bills from the past 12 months. Many sellers can access these records online. These bills should offer an idea of the costs of heating and cooling the home. Features such as low ceilings, new windows and a smaller footprint tend to keep heating and cooling bills low. High vaulted ceilings, while luxurious, and a larger footprint can cost significantly more in utilities.