Regardless of your situation, planning for your dream home is a little daunting; everyone has an opinion, the market is always changing, and for many, real estate transactions are the biggest investment you'll make in your entire life.
Here are four things you should know to ensure your feet are on firm ground when planning for your future dream home.
1. Know Whose Advice & Opinions Matter
As we're on the hunt for a new home currently, I've noticed that everyone -- and I do mean everyone -- seems to have an opinion on what's best. While it's nice to get a hand in sorting through all the options, here's the thing: it's easy to have an opinion when you're not the one spending hundreds of thousands of dollars. Unless you're talking with your spouse, child, or someone who is going to be renting a room from you, feel free to kindly thank them for their input and move on. You'll be drowning in advice if you don't.
2. Know Your Numbers
If you're like me, your instinct is to avoid any math that goes beyond what you can do on your smartphone app or the back of a napkin. This is one area that you're going to want to really understand all the numbers so you can be confident and make good decisions in any interactions with your realtor or bank. Google reveals a variety of mortgage calculators (and our sponsor this week has a whole section about the cost of ownership of a home, but in my experience here's what you really need to understand:
- What is the market like in your ideal areas? Is it a buyer's market or a seller's market? What are prices like for a typical home similar to your dream home?
- What monthly mortgage payment would you be comfortable with? Don't forget your monthly payment must include taxes, some extra funds set aside for maintenance, and insurance.
- How credit-worthy are you? Last but not least, time for a financial check-up! This you should do right now in case there are problems you need to correct. Find out your credit score, talk to your bank about your loan options, and start to understand the amount of down payment you can put together.
3. Know That Money Isn't Everything
Ok, now that I've terrified you with a big ol' money to-do list (sorry! I feel your pain.), I want to remind you that money isn't everything. A lot more goes into a dream home than the price -- more money isn't always better.
I gave this its own section because it's that important and it's a message that I don't hear often, so it bears repeating. The money piece is crucial, but being clear that you (and your spouse/partner/roommate/etc) truly do want to own a home comes first. It's an investment, both emotionally and financially. It can be a very stressful experience so be sure to check in with yourself on your reasons for moving forward.
4. Get It Down On Paper
Last but not least, now that we've gotten all that stuff out of the way, it's time to have some fun. Get out your favorite journal, notebook, or just rustle up some blank scrap paper. I'd like you to write down on paper all the aspects of your dream home that are important to you. Write, doodle, draw pictures, create a vision board, write some more. Get it all out so it's clear. Some things you'll want to jot down:
- The Perfect Price for your dream home, maybe a price range for flexibility. Remember, price isn't everything, but it's important to be realistic.
- The Perfect Location. Maybe you have a couple of options for safe, inviting neighborhoods that would be perfect for you.
- The Perfect Features inside your home. I encourage you to talk about how it feels, so as opposed to "2 bedrooms," think more like "a large bedroom with a sitting area for me to read at night with a cup of tea." Much clearer, no?
Regardless, I'm confident that if you write it down, know your numbers, and block out opinions that don't matter, you'll know the perfect home when you see it.