9 important factors to consider when buying a home
Buying a new home is an exciting milestone, but we’re not going to lie—more often than not, it’s also stressful. It doesn’t have to be, though…
The secret to minimizing the stress and maximizing the excitement? Start thinking about these 9 key factors to consider during the home buying process early:
- Purchase price
- Physical features
- Home type
- Age of property
- Space inside
- Space outside, plus
- Home maintenance costs
Weighing all these elements can make it easier to find the perfect home for you and your family! Read more about each home-buying factor below:
#1. What’s the purchase price? / How much?
Although this one may be the most obvious, it’s also potentially the most crucial factor to consider before making a home purchase: determine what you can afford.
Understanding current mortgage rates, assessing your down payment, and getting approved for a mortgage all help you solidify this number. Picking the best type of mortgage can also be a vital step in this process.
And, don’t forget about closing costs! There are several other expenses associated with buying a home—like land transfer tax and legal fees—so be sure to include those in your calculations when figuring out what you’re comfortable spending.
Once you have a number in mind, stick to it! It’s easy to get emotionally attached to a home and overlook your financial bottom line. That’s why it’s necessary to find a real estate agent you trust—to help guide you through the journey and check in with you about what you can actually afford.
If you have a hard price limit you don’t want to exceed, let your agent know and ask them not to show you homes that go above that limit.
#2. Does this home have all the features on your wish list?
Now that you have a price in mind, the fun begins! Make a wish list of everything you want in a home. Even if you don’t think it’s realistic, include it on the list—from the number of bedrooms and the type of layout to more specific things like granite countertops and EV chargers.
This can be an exciting exercise, but keep in mind, that you probably won’t be able to get everything on your list.
It’s a good idea to go through your list and rank things in terms of importance. For instance, the location may be your top priority, while a gas stove may be less essential.
#3. What are the compromises you’re willing to make?
Ranking your list of wants and needs is a great starting point to decide what you can be flexible about. Determine what things are non-negotiable. If a house has 9 things out of 10 on your wishlist, but the one missing is a non-negotiable item, it isn’t the house for you.
Articulating compromises in advance can help you narrow down houses you want to see for a showing. It also helps avoid emotional attachment to homes that don’t work for you or your family.
#4. What are the location and surrounding areas like?
Often, a non-negotiable item will be location. This is the community you’ll become part of, so it needs to be a good fit.
If you want to change locations from where you’re currently living, make sure to get to know your desired new neighbourhood in person. Walk or drive around the area, and try to spend some quality time there to see how cozy it can be.
Beyond how it feels, keep in mind other characteristics of your target neighbourhood that can sustain or improve the quality of life for you and your family (and that includes pets!), such as:
- Access to parks and recreation
- Length of commute (to work or key shopping areas)
- Proximity to friends and family
- Access to different modes of transport
- Cost of living
Once you zero in on the right neighbourhood for you, you can begin with casual research: search for homes for sale in your target area. Remember that the right house in the wrong location is the wrong house for you.
If happiness is a strong deciding factor, you can take a look at our happiness index report to see discover the happiest neighbourhoods in Toronto!
#5. Is this an ideal home type and style?
Do you want the space of a single-family home or the ease of condo living? Do you value cascading staircases or single-floor bungalows? Big backyard or big front yard? How about no front yard? The type of home you choose should be top of mind. Plus, you might want to consider what will fit your needs not just today, but also in the next few years.
You’ll need to think about the style of the home as well. Do you prefer something with an old charm or a turn-key new build? Modern or classic? Brick or stucco? Whatever your preference, remember that your desired location may limit what style of homes are available to you since different neighbourhoods naturally have different design styles.
#6. How old (or new) is the property?
The age of the home you buy may, again, be dictated by the location and style you choose. And there are pros and cons with both new builds and older homes.
Newer homes have the appeal of being move-in ready and can be less expensive to upgrade. If you get a place that’s pre-construction, you can also customize features to your preference well in advance. However, this home personalization may come with a heftier price tag.
On the other hand, older homes can have great charm and may come at a lower price if they need some structural or aesthetic work done. While a renovation can be daunting, re-doing a mature home also enables you to customize it to your own tastes—and in doing so, increase the value of the property. On the flip side, repairs and renovations can be expensive when you buy a home that’s been on the block for a long time, and when the maturing materials need to be completely replaced.
Tip: Getting a home inspection is always a good idea, especially for older properties, because it gives you a better sense of what aspects of the home you’ll need to invest in years to come.
#7. Is there enough space inside?
Give yourself some mental room by working out how much space you and/or your family will need. How much space are you living in currently? Do you need more or less space than that?
It’s also helpful to consider what type of space you need, like additional bedrooms or bathrooms, storage space, outdoor space, or even parking spaces.
Getting the size of your home right is crucial. If it’s too big, it can be a burden to maintain, but if it’s too small, it may make you want to move again.
#8. Is there enough space outside?
You can always change a house, but you can l never change its lot size. So if there isn’t enough room inside a house, you may want a larger lot so you can add to your home in the future.
It’s also okay to think big with your backyard: your lot could potentially be enjoyed by future pets, kids, guests, and, of course, you—so it’s worthy of a second thought before buying a home.
#9. What are the home maintenance costs?
The ongoing expenses of owning a home are largely dictated by the type, lot size, and age of a property. Condos will have ongoing fees spelled out, but you won’t necessarily be saving money if you opt for a single family or semi-detached home instead.
A head’s up: property taxes, utilities, and outdoor maintenance are just some of the expenses you’ll be responsible for if you opt for a house over a condo.
Make your decision with confidence
Purchasing a home is likely one of the biggest decisions you’ll ever make, so don’t rush the process. Take your time and consider all these factors in the home buying journey.
It’s a good idea to start looking at properties before you need to move. This way, you don’t feel rushed and can get a sense of what’s available and where. Plus, your wish list may change once you start looking!
Considering these factors can ensure you buy a home you’ll love for years to come. And when you’re ready, Properly’s housing experts are here to help get you started on this exciting, life-changing journey.