Making Pre-Purchase Decisions
Just because you may feel restricted by price ranges — especially if this is your first or second home purchase — don’t let anybody tell you that you can’t afford to be choosy when looking for a home to buy! You are unique. So let’s get busy defining these homebuying parameters and writing them down.
Location & Neighborhood
• Suburbs or Country.
Pros: Generally less expensive. Often newer. Tract homes are conforming. More home for the money.
Cons: More time in traffic if driving to town for work. Further away from entertainment options cities offer.
Pros: Closer to many employers. Walking distance to theaters, restaurants, schools. Many period homes offer more distinctiveness in styles.
Cons: Often noisier. Higher crime rates. More expensive.
• Busy Streets.
Pros: Often homes on streets with more traffic are thousands of dollars cheaper. If noise doesn’t bother you, don’t pass up homes on busy streets. Drive by at different times of the day / week to ascertain noise levels.
Cons: These types of homes will always sell for less than others in the same area. If bedrooms are located near the front of the home, sleep may be disturbed.
• Cul de sac.
Pros: Number one choice of buyers with children.
Cons: Less privacy, neighbors know more about you.
• Corner lots.
Pros: Often larger lots. Fewer neighbors. More visibility.
Cons: More traffic noise. More vulnerable to vehicles jumping the curb. Kids might trespass at the corner. More sidewalk to shovel in winter.
Type of Home
• Single Family.
Pros: Good appreciation. Opportunity for gardens. More privacy. Quieter.
Cons: More expensive than our next category. More maintenance.
• Condos, Townhomes, Cooperatives.
Pros: Less expensive than comparable single-family homes. Generally newer so fewer repairs. Lock-n-go lifestyle. No yard or exterior maintenance.
Cons: Less privacy. Noisier. Common walls and/or floors and ceilings. Sometimes no private yard or balcony.
Number of Stories
• Single Story.
Pros: Easy wheelchair access. Some medical conditions such as bad knees make it hard for certain individuals to climb stairs. Easier to clean.
Cons: Can be noisier if stereos or televisions are located on the same floor as bedrooms. Some people feel safety is compromised if bedrooms are located at ground level. More of the lot is absorbed by living quarters.
• More than One Story.
Pros: More living space on same foundation than a ranch home. Less noise if entertaining on lower level while other family members sleep upstairs.
Cons: More trips up and down the stairs to carry stuff to bedrooms. If laundry rooms are on the second floor, washer leaks are major. Might need dual vacuum cleaners. It is difficult to maintain consistent temperatures on each level without dual heating and cooling units.
• Split Levels.
Pros: Often less expensive if purchased with lower level unfinished. Higher ceilings are appealing. Downstairs family room separates noise levels from upstairs. More square footage on same size lots as ranch homes.
Cons: Less storage space. Hassle to take trash downstairs and carry groceries upstairs or vice versa. Kitchens tend to be smaller.
• Number of Bedrooms.
Pros: Common minimum requested configurations are 3 bedrooms. Newer parents prefer bedrooms located on one level.
Cons: 2 bedrooms appeal primarily to first-time home buyers, singles or seniors. However, don’t discount a two bedroom if an extra den will satisfy your space requirements.
• Number of Bathrooms.
Pros: More than one bath is preferred by most people. One bath homes are often less expensive.
Cons: Don’t pass up a one bath home is there is room to add a second bath. Sometimes it costs less to put in an extra bath than it does to buy a two-bath home.
• Square Footage.
Pros: larger spaces offer more room and cost less per square foot than smaller spaces.
Cons: Don’t be misled as lay-out is more important than actual square footage. Sometimes well designed smaller spaces appear larger.
• Bonus Rooms.
Pros: Extra space for media rooms, art studios, children’s playrooms, gyms, den/study.
Cons: More expensive.
Pros: Cheaper to build. Convenient if raining or snowing.
Cons: Higher noise levels inside the home from cars. Some people feel they are an eye sore. If the garage door to the house self locks, you could get locked out at an inopportune time.
Pros: Can be tucked away from site lines. Quieter.
Cons: More expensive to build. Farther to walk in bad weather.
• School districts.
• Special amenities such as fireplaces, pools or spas.
• Condition of plumbing, electrical, heating & cooling units.
• Available utilities such as cable or DSL, satellite.
• Sewer, cesspool or septic connections.
• Fixers. If you’re handy with tools, you might save a lot of money if you consider homes that need minor improvements, fresh paint or new carpeting.