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Things To Consider When Looking For A New Home


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As a military family, we move a lot. On average, we can expect to move every three years. This means that every three years we have to search for a new home. Here are some things I’ve learned about what to consider during these transitions.

 

graphics of four different colored houses

 

Budget

Before beginning your search you must establish your budget. If you are renting, don’t forget to factor in utilities. If you are purchasing your home, in addition to your utility costs you’ll need to calculate property tax, homeowners insurance, and HOA fees. Also, take into consideration future costs (e.g. Is your rent locked in for just one year? How much will it increase if you renew a year from now?) so that you don’t end up struggling to pay your bills down the road if costs increase but your income doesn’t.

 

Location

I know real estate agents say this is the first and only consideration. I think there are many others, but this one is certainly important. While being in a good school district is one consideration, don’t forget to look at crime rates, convenience, sidewalks and lighting, HOA regulations, and neighborhood amenities (e.g. a community pool or playground) when narrowing down your choices. We have a pit bull so we have to make sure the neighborhood where we live will allow us to have her. Recently, we discovered that my husband’s truck violates our HOA bylaws since it weighs over 7000 pounds. Had we asked for the bylaws from our landlord before signing the lease, we probably would have chosen a house in a different neighborhood. Also, we like to check out potential neighborhoods in advance to see how many kids live in the area and to watch the interaction between neighbors because those things are important to us.

 

Must-Have Features

Take time to figure out what features you are absolutely unwilling to sacrifice and which ones you could live without. Even if you don’t expect to live in a home long, since you don’t know what the future holds be sure you don’t get stuck in a home with a kitchen that is so small that you curse silently to yourself each time you are in it for the next several years. My husband likes to tinker with cars so a two-car garage is a necessity for us. With four kids to feed who also like to hang out in the kitchen with me while I’m making meals, a large kitchen is also a necessity. Also, we have an active family and equally active dog so a large backyard is mandatory. I’m willing to forego overall square footage to make sure we can afford a house with these three features. Decide ahead of time which features you MUST have so you can weed out houses early in your search.

 

Use Multiple Resources

Don’t feel pressured to rely on just one source for finding a home. For example, if you are looking for a home in Louisville, Kentucky you might begin your search by looking for a house at LeveinTeam.com (a local real estate agency). While the real estate agent lines up homes for you to view, you can continue to search newspaper listings, website listings, and For Sale or For Rent signs in front of houses in neighborhoods you are interested in living in. Unlike sellers who are obligated to work with a single real estate agency, as a buyer you can use multiple resources.

 

Timing

Even if you find the perfect home, its availability may not fit your personal timeline. Perhaps the house you want to rent isn’t available until two months after your scheduled move. Or maybe the sellers are pressuring you to close on their house two months before you intend to take possession. Depending on your circumstances and budget, these might be deal breakers. In instances where I have faced these problems, I have negotiated with the landlord or seller to minimize the inconvenience. In one case, we had to turn down the house because we couldn’t afford to pay rent for two houses for the length of time that would have been required.

 

You might have other things that you consider important when choosing a new home. These are just the key considerations that I have consistently had to confront with each of our moves. I’d love to hear your own experiences with moving and house hunting. Please share your stories in the comments.

21 thoughts on “Things To Consider When Looking For A New Home”

  1. Really helpful post! I’m 18 now, and I’m planning on buying my first flat in a few years to start being independent and to start lvinig like a real adult. I bookmarked this, so I can check back in the future, and I also printed it 🙂

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  2. Not seriously looking for a new home but thanks for sharing the tips. The next time we buy a new one, it is going to be somewhere tropical.

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  3. Very helpful tips indeed. My family has moved four times in total in my 18 years of life, and indeed, the above items were considered before we finally came onto our now permanent home.

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  4. Great article! We have owned our home for 9 years and I would say factor in taxes and home owners insurance into your monthly budget also.

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  5. This is such a helpful link. My husband and I have been renting for a long time, but we feel like we are nearing the point where we would be financially able to afford a house. I hadn’t really considered all of the HOA fees as part of our budget, so thanks for mentioning that!

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  6. These are some great tips. One of the main things that I always complain about with regards to our home is the fact that it doesn’t really have a lot of closet space. We are always looking for creative ways to have more storage.

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  7. Great things to consider when purchasing a new home. I am by no means a pro. We have bought four homes total which is more than most people our age. BUT my wife and I made some big mistakes last time and purchased too quickly out of emotion rather than taking these factors and others into consideration. You don’t want to feel stuck in the wrong home. Great list and well writen.

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  8. For us, location is definitely a huge thing. We live in the tiniest home, but pay what my parents pay for a 4 bedroom house, only because we love where we live. Some people think we’re crazy, but I think home should be where you are most comfortable living, don’t you?

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  9. When we were in the Army, we had to get old army housing, both choices were not that great but it was whatever really, because we were stationed in MD, off base houses (apts) were like INSANE prices, not worth it.

    Now that we’re out of the Military, we actually just bought our first house, after looking at maybe 50 or so.. I like to think watching a lot of HGTV paid off, I was pointing out things.. Thank you Holmes on Homes! haha

    These are great tips!

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  10. Great article – we moved home 20 month ago, and it was such a big decision.
    We wanted a bigger house, but wanted a semi-rural location, but our budget only catered for one! So, we now have a beautiful large home, but “gave up” the more rural (and expensive) location.
    It’s knowing what you are happy compromising on 🙂
    xxx

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  11. We recently had to relocate our family from KS to PA… This list would have been very handy a year ago when we started looking! I’m going to keep it tucked away for our next big relocation! Thank you!

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  12. Being military ourselves I always look into proximity of work and neighborhood. So far we’ve gotten lucky since I refuse to live on post. When I do get out the military these tips will certainly help me out.

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  13. These tips are great because we plan to buy a new home in 1.5 years. We know the general area that we want to buy in but are still working on the details.

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  14. I tend to stay in one place-I don’t have to move around and I don’t! BUT when I moved from my apartment 7 years ago the one thing I knew I had to have was a garage for my car! Parking on the public streets between alternate side of the street parking and then the snow pile up that occurs on your car when they come to clean—I found my new place right across the street!! YEAH–no more street parking!!!

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  15. Location to me is very important but you are so right, there are many other things to consider. I think you have about covered all of them… or all the ones most of us would need.

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  16. You have an excellent list here. I think I am staying where I am until after my kids graduate from high school, but once they are off to college, etc, my husband and I want to retire to Florida!

    Reply

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