In this week’s episodes, we’re buying a home! Or at least thinking about what we need if we were to buy a home. Listener and former student, Arhely, asked for tips and tricks during the home buying process, and I’m excited to share the stuff I couldn’t just Google on the internet when I bought a home.
In today’s episode, I’ll be sharing about the FIRST step in buying a home: determining what features you want and what features you need.
A LOT of people skip this step when homebuying—honestly, I did with the first two houses I owned. But, similarly to our Renter’s Life episode, Weighing the Cost of Your Rental, you need to name what you need to get from your home purchase. The only catch? This time, skipping this step could result in a long term commitment to a complicated partner (you know, it’s a house relationship metaphor). So it’s even more critical to get as specific as you can about what you want and need in a home that you’re buying before you talk to anyone else about your purchase. If you’re buying a home with a partner or spouse, I still recommend starting this process individually and then collaboratively building a list as a couple. So, what do we need to consider? We’re going to look at four categories:
Financials, Layout, Lifestyle, and Resale.
First, financials. I’m going to make a big statement here—if you don’t understand the financials of buying a home, wait to buy a home. Get really nosy with a family member or friend who is buying a home and ask to sit in on as much of that process as possible. Knowing your credit score, what kind of loan you qualify for, what that monthly mortgage payment will look like, what homeowners’ insurance will cost and how frequently you’ll be billed, and the cost of fees and services—you know, stuff like your realtor’s fees, cost of hiring movers, what you can expect in property taxes, and inspections—these things all impact your financial future greatly. Take time to learn before you commit to buying a home. Don’t assume that everyone else knows and you don’t—ask questions of people who are on your homebuying team, and that’s literally everyone who is helping you buy a home. Also understand that the things you name in the next categories are financial decisions. Compile all of the money information into one place, like a trusty spreadsheet, and revisit and adjust as much as necessary until you really, really get it.
Next, Layout. This is where everyone starts, right? A three bedroom, two bathroom house with a backyard. A condo with a view of the mountains. A little cottage in the woods. Whatever you’re considering, take a moment to write down why you’re deciding on certain layout features. Perhaps you want a garage because you live somewhere that scraping ice off of your car adds 20 minutes to your commute in the winter. Or maybe you need to be able to see your little rascal kids from every angle of the kitchen or living room because the last time you couldn’t didn’t turn out well. Perhaps your company is moving to working from home forever and you now need a home office. Write down all of the layout needs and all of the “why’s.” People will ask you to compromise here, so it’s nice to revisit a list of reasons as you’re making these considerations.
Next is Lifestyle. You might be able to afford a larger home in a suburb of your city. But that means it might take you half an hour to get to a single restaurant you need, which means you’re likely only going out every three months. Perhaps you want to go all Gaines with it and get a fixer upper but work a job that demands 60 hours a week. Or perhaps you need to live in a location where there are a lot of trees and a pond so you can enjoy birdwatching daily (this is officially a requirement of my homeownership list, by the way). Lifestyle requirements not only add to the quality of your life, but they impact your willingness to host people in your home and the overall joy you’ll receive from your investment. Buying the home that everyone else seems to want in the neighborhood that everyone else is in doesn’t always equate to a good investment if you can’t enjoy it for the years you’ll live in it.
Finally, consider resale value of your home. Now that you’ve looked at your priorities, research what makes a home valuable in the long term. I once bought a home that was on the border of a flood plane—something I would have literally never thought about—and the potential resale value was affected by this. But even if this is the home of your dreams, there may come a day where you HAVE to sell, and the last thing you want is to lose gobs of money on a home. However, I still think that it’s critical to consider all of the other categories first.
Okay, to recap, before telling your parents or your coworkers you’re buying a home, you need to know in writing: your Financials, Layout, Lifestyle, and Resale information. Then, get feedback on what you’re looking for buy comparing your list with online sites, friends, and family.
Knowing what you want to buy in a home will help narrow down options tremendously and frankly, eliminate a lot of stressful in the moment decisions. You can do it, I can help, and I would love for you to share your lists in these four categories with me! Send it to nowthatimnotyourteacher (all one word) @gmail.com.
Now That I'm Not Your Teacher by Taylor Vogel is a podcast that offers insight about the real world stuff that teachers often want to say, but either don't have time to or really shouldn't.
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Now That I'm Not Your Teacher is a podcast that helps you tackle the responsibilities of adulthood with the support and structure of a (former) teacher's guidance.