The first step when buying a home is to dream big! Building a house hunting guide to help you find what you’re looking for is a great starting point. In this article, we’ll walk you through what questions to consider as you begin your home hunt.
There’s no need to be fully committed to any of these questions, but they will help you and your realtor focus your home searches and make your homebuying process run smoothly.
House Hunting Guide: The Basics
One main component of choosing where to buy a home is, of course, location, location, location.
But choosing a location isn’t a simple matter of rural vs. urban vs suburban. Once you’ve nailed down the general environment you want to live in, there’s still more to consider.
How close or far do you want resources such as grocery stores, restaurants and coffee shops, shopping, parks, and schools?
Does living within walking distance to a park sound like a dream, or will the increased traffic in front of your home due to park visitors irritate you?
If you have kids in public school, do you want them to be able to walk to school? If so, what are the school reputations in your neighborhood? Here are links for US News & World Report’s Oregon school rankings:
Do you want an older home or something newer (i.e., built within the last 10 years), or something brand new? Would you be happy in a condo or townhouse, or are you looking for a standalone structure?
Do you want a one-story floor plan or multiple levels?
How many square feet of house are you looking for? Note your minimum and maximum size needs.
What kind of architecture do you like? Contemporary, traditional, craftsman, Tudor, colonial, modern, or something else?
How interested are you in doing renovations? Will you want a home that’s perfectly livable right away, or are you comfortable spending time and money upfront on renovations?
Of course, we can’t ignore the all-important factor of price when home shopping. What is your ideal price range, and what is the absolute minimum and maximum that you have to spend on a home?
Keep in mind that your total cost will ultimately end up being a combination of the home purchase itself as well as any necessary renovations or fixes after the sale is complete.
Your Ideal Lot
For most people buying a new home, a yard is a big factor to consider. Not just the size — under or over an acre? Many acres? — but also the layout, shape, position around the house, trees/shade vs sun, and the current landscaping conditions. People with kids and pets may be especially interested in having a fenced yard, particularly if a home is a busy area.
Another factor to consider is what kind of view you’d like to have. Is there a special view in the area you’d like to have (i.e., farmland, a nearby mountain or mountain range, a local body of water).
How many parking spaces will you need? Will you be content with street parking or will you want a garage? If you want a garage, how many cars should fit? Do you want an enclosed parking space or a simple covered parking area? Do you need space for an RV or boat? Make notes of your needs and wants regarding parking on your lot.
Other Outdoor Spaces
Are you interested in hosting backyard BBQs? What are your wants and needs for outdoor spaces – decks, patios, hot tub, pool?
Do you need any other outdoor structures such as a barn, a shed, or a shop?
The Home Interior
Do you want carpet, ceramic tile, vinyl, or hardwood floors – perhaps a combination?
Beds & Baths
How many bedrooms and bathrooms do you need at a minimum, and how many would be nice to have? Where do you want your primary bedroom – on the main floor or an upper or lower floor?
Do you want an eat-in kitchen or a separate dining room? (Or both!) Consider if you’ll want visibility into other living spaces from the kitchen (i.e., an open concept) or direct access to an outdoor patio from the kitchen or dining areas.
Is your family a formal living room kind of crew, or are you more comfortable in a casual family room? Do you want a fireplace?
Do you want a basement space? And if so, do you want it to be livable, or used for storage and laundry? Speaking of laundry, do you want a separate laundry room in a specific area of the home?
I’ve Built My House Hunting Guide! What’s Next?
Now that you have your personal house hunting guide, it’s time to start shopping!
Keep in mind that some things on your list could be fixable after the sale is made (such as renovations inside and/or out). But others, such as location and lot details are set in stone. During your inspection period (the first thing that happens in a transaction). you’ll have time to refine your list of needs and wants.
If you find a home that’s otherwise perfect, but not in your favorite location is that a deal-breaker? Or is being in the right community more important than the home details?
These are only questions that you can answer, but regardless of your answer, share them with your realtor! Your agent is in partnership with you as you search for your perfect home.
Finally, make sure your credit is in good order and your cash reserves are built up – and go out there and find your dream home!