So you've decided it's time to become a homeowner.
Great decision! You'll be making an investment in your future - and building equity in a place all your own - instead of enriching your landlord.
One of the most important decisions you'll make as you proceed in the homebuying process is the type of home you want to live in. A single-family home? A townhome or condo? A duplex or triplex?
And what type of floor plan do you prefer? A single-family ranch? A multistory home or a tri-level?
There are many factors you should consider in making these decisions, including your lifestyle, family situation and financial circumstances.
Seek an Affordable Home
One of the most important considerations is financial. You want to purchase a home for which you can make the monthly payments without stretching your budget. If you want to get started in real estate, a condo or townhome is sometimes what you can afford. They're usually priced less than single-family homes.
Another option for the cost-conscious is to buy a duplex or triplex, live in one of the units and rent out the rest.
This is often the right way to go. Now you can buy a property you otherwise couldn't afford because you have rent payments helping cover the mortgage.
Availability is another issue. Especially in urban areas, there may be fewer affordable single-family homes than other types of properties.
Consider Your Lifestyle
Your lifestyle embraces many factors, including your age and state of health (and that of your family); how much time you spend at home; whether or not you plan to entertain a lot; how much work you want to do around the home.
If you and your family spend most of your time away from home, there's no need to buy a big home or one with a big lawn. Your better choice might be a condo or townhome.
Let your maintenance payments take care of things you would otherwise do yourself, including lawn care, exterior painting and snow removal.
You also might want to consider a newer property that won't require too much maintenance.
On the other hand, if you're homebodies, you may want a larger, more comfortable home - and if you like to throw parties or have people over for dinner regularly, you should take this into account as well.
If anybody in your household has mobility issues, it would be best to stick with a one-story home.
Other than these factors, it's a case of personal preference. On a cost basis, if you have a three-story house, the third floor doesn't have the same value per square foot as the first two stories – and the same goes for the basement. So you may get more space for less money that way.
Picking the right home is a matter of “feel.”
If it looks like home and feels like home, buy it. It is quite often difficult to find a home you love, so even if it is a little more than you wanted to spend, if you can afford it, buy it. Do not buy a home just because it is a bargain. Quality of life should be a major part of your decision.