7 Things to Consider When Choosing Where to Buy a House
When choosing where to buy a house, picking the right neighborhood is arguably just as important as picking the right house. This is because location is the most important factor in real estate. It’s what determines much of what a property is worth.
So if you’re in the market to buy a house but haven’t settled on an area yet, here are seven factors to consider:
- Your house budget
Before you start comparing real estate markets, you need to determine your purchasing budget. How much house can you afford? This includes how much you can put toward a down payment and how much you can put toward a monthly mortgage payment.
You can easily figure this out by using a free online mortgage calculator. Calculating your purchase budget will help narrow down your search for where to buy.
- What’s nearby
Once you have a budget to work with, you can start comparing neighborhoods by what’s nearby.
For example, will you be close to work or will you need to commute every day? Similarly, are there amenities nearby, such as restaurants and parks? What about grocery stores and doctor’s offices? All of this may have an impact on how desirable a particular neighborhood is to you.
After all, you don’t want to live miles away from the places you frequently need to get to if you can avoid it. The closer you are to things, the better (keeping in mind that proximity to popular amenities tends to come at a premium).
- How long you plan to stay
Another factor to consider is how long you plan to stay in your next house. Is it your forever home or just a starter or transitional home? This can have a big impact on where you choose to buy.
For example, if you’re choosing a forever home, you may want to choose a neighborhood that’s close to family. Alternatively, if it’s a starter home, buying a house that’s closer to work but farther away from family may be more acceptable.
In addition, keep in mind that even if you plan to move at some point, you may want to keep the house as an investment property and rent it out with the help of a property manager. In that case, it’s important to consider whether the area generates steady demand for rentals.
- Transportation options and costs
Available transportation options can also impact where you should buy a house. If you depend on public transportation, for example, make sure there are routes with stations or stops near the house. Also, check the cost of tickets or passes.
Alternatively, if you drive a car, you’ll want to check what fuel prices are like at the nearest gas station to the house and along the way to work. Of course, if you work from home, this may be less important.
- School district
If you have kids (or plan to), make sure to see what school district they will be in and where the nearest school is. Don’t forget to think long-term: elementary, middle, and high school.
You may want to research different schools’ reputations in terms of average test scores, opportunities for extracurricular activities and sports, and whether they have a Parent-Teacher Organization or Association (PTO/PTA).
If the public school offerings don’t satisfy you, you may want to explore private and charter school options.
- Neighborhood safety
Neighborhood crime can (and should) be a huge deterrent for homebuyers. So research an area’s crime statistics so you know whether you’ll feel safe living there.
To do this, you can look up crime rates online, check to see if there’s a neighborhood watch program and ample street lights, talk to locals, and just spend time in the area.
- Future neighborhood development and demand
Lastly, a house will likely be the biggest purchase you make in your life. So you want to do all you can to ensure it appreciates in value and turns out to be a good investment.
To do this, consider the appearance of the neighborhood. Old, dirty, or crime-ridden neighborhoods may struggle to attract demand and keep home values low as a result.
In contrast, clean neighborhoods with nice amenities and future development plans may see more rapid appreciation. Thus, it pays to research what city and county building plans are in the works.
Adding it all up
Ultimately, the best place to buy a home comes down to your personal preferences. However, the tips above provide some objective measures you should consider. Do your due diligence and you’ll be glad you did 30, 40, or 50 years down the road!