What Do You Need to do Before Buying a Home?

Pick the right house for you


How do you find the right home for your family? How do you know which home is the best one for you?

If you are thinking about moving, there are so many things you have to take into consideration. Where do you want to live? How much should you pay? How large a home do you need? Which house appeals to you most? You need to spend a little time seriously considering these questions before you make an offer on a home.


No matter how much you love your new house, you will eventually come to resent it if you have an extremely long, stressful commute back and forth to work. Try driving away from your job in several directions during rush hour. How long can you drive before you begin to feel that it is too far … 30 minutes, 40 minutes? Only you can decide. Once you know the maximum distance you want to be from your job, take a map and draw a circle. You will want to choose house within that circle.

Now look at the map and decide if there are neighborhoods within that circle that are particularly appealing. If you aren't sure, go for a few weekend drives. Write down the names of streets and communities where you believe you would enjoy living. You may want to eliminate homes along busy streets, or homes that would be near freeways, to make it easier to resell your home in the future.

In many areas, you can find out about the schools, crime rate, and other neighborhood information by checking them out on the internet. This may also help you narrow down your home search.


One of the first things you should do when you begin to search for a home is decide on the price you are willing to pay. Begin by talking with someone at your bank or credit union, or to a mortgage broker. All of them will be happy to discuss mortgage options with you. When interest rates are low, it is almost always best to choose a fixed rate mortgage. If mortgage rates are at historic highs, you may want to choose an ARM, in the hope of refinancing in a few years to a lower interest rate. Whatever you decide, make sure you DO NOT select a mortgage that would give you negative amortization. With negative amortization, you could make payments for years and still end up owing more than you started with!

Once a lender has pre-qualified you, based on your income and the amount of money you have available to put down on a house, you will know the maximum sales price you will be able to pay. However, there are still a couple of things you need to consider. First, are homes in this price range available in the area you have mapped out? If not, you may have to expand the distance you are willing to commute. Second, do you want to spend the absolute maximum you can on a house? If you have expensive hobbies you enjoy, such as traveling, or if you have other ways you would like to spend your earnings, you may decide to spend a little less than the lender says you could. In other words, even if you are qualified to buy a $350,000 house, you may decide to only spend $300,000 so you will have an extra $400 or $500 a month to spend on other things. It is up to you. Don't let yourself become "house poor!"

If this is one of the first homes you have bought or the first home you have purchased in a long time, you may want to use this Amazon link and read the Suze Orman book,"The Money Book for the Young, Fabulous and Broke."  It has invaluable information about buying a home or a car, getting insurance, retirement planning and other financial information.


Are you going to be living in the house alone or with a family? Does every child need their own room, or do you plan to have them share bedrooms? How many bathrooms will your family need? Do you have the furniture for a formal living room and dining room, as well as casual rooms like a den, game room, office and breakfast room? Or, would you rather have fewer, but larger rooms, such as the popular great room concept?

Look at the space where you are currently living. Why are you moving? Is there something that you particularly feel you need in the next place you live, such as a yard or a larger garage? Once you have thought about your family's needs, write down a list of these requirements, including number of bedrooms, bathrooms, parking spaces in the garage, and whether or not you want formal living areas, as well as casual ones.


Once you know where you want to look, how much you want to spend, and how large you hope the house will be, go see all the homes possible that meet your criteria. Be open to suggestions. Your Realtor may be able to suggest neighborhoods or houses that come close to your criteria and that are least worth considering.

Make a chart, and put information about each house on the chart as you look at them. Collect any flyers or MLS information that the Realtor gives you. After you have seen 4 or 5 homes, it will be hard to remember which one had the extra bathroom, and which one had the gorgeous built-ins that you loved. In fact, I highly recommend that you take photos of every house you see.

After you have narrowed down your list of "favorite" homes to 3 or 4, drive past them again. Revisit the inside of them, if possible. Try experimenting with the commute. See what your actual travel time would be. Before you know it, you will discover that there is one house that you have fallen in love with. That's the one you should make an offer on! Once you decide, make the offer right away. There are always other buyers in the market for homes similar to the kind you are looking for. You don't want to expend all this effort, only to lose out on the home you were really hoping to buy! However, if that does happen, be flexible. There may be an even better one coming on the market tomorrow, and when it does, you'll be ready!

For more information that might interest you, you may also want to read:

Becoming a Realtor: Think Safety

How a Realtor Can Help You

How to Prove You Don't Owe a Debt

Photo courtesy of photoxpress.com


One of the Best Resources for Adults of Any Age

The Money Book for the Young, Fabulous & Broke
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(price as of Jul 23, 2015)
Although this is geared for young adults in their 20's and 30's, I have found the information is useful for adults of any age. Great information about buying a home or car, getting insurance, saving for retirement, and more.