With Valentine’s Day in the air, now is a good time to assess whether or not you are buying a home with your heart or your head. Sure, a good mix of both is probably in order, but you should be aware of some common pitfalls when your home search and purchase tend to lean toward the emotional side of things rather than the rational.
It’s true that buying a home is one of the most important and most expensive decisions that most people will make during their lifetimes. Because of this, the real estate transaction isn’t just about math, numbers, payment amounts, and mortgage rates. A house represents where you and your family will make a home. Memories will be created there. Your pattern of life will be established there around your neighbors and community.
When buying a home, some even fantasize about the ideal or aspirational components of how this particular new house may change their lives: more space, a better school zone, shorter commute times resulting in more time at home and less in the car, newer custom finishes, better photo opportunities to share on social media, and more opportunities to host friends and family. It’s easy to see how quickly considering these aspects of a home can stir the emotions.
These areas of homeownership should be contemplated. Just be sure that they aren’t the only things guiding and ruling your decisions about a house. So, what, then, should you also be relying on to help make a more well-rounded, thoughtful decision? Logically, you should always make sure that a potential home meets crucial criteria by asking yourself these questions:
What is the True Condition of This Home?
Have you had the home inspected professionally? Have you seen the home in various weather conditions? What are the home’s needed repairs or upgrades needed? Do you have the skillset or financial resources to make these changes and on what timeline? By taking the time to get a true assessment of the home’s potential flaws you are giving yourself and your bank account a dose of reality.
What is the True Cost of Owning This Home?
In the current real estate market where inventory is low and prices are high, it might be easy to convince yourself that you are just going to have to go above your price range to find the perfect house. However true this might feel, please proceed with caution. Will you have to bring extra cash to the closing table due to an appraisal gap? What about extra costs associated with private mortgage insurance? Have you scrutinized the tax rate? Is there an extra monthly or annual homeowners association fee? Have you gotten information on past average utility bills in a house of this age and size? Knowing these answers may help you get a firmer grasp on your total cost of homeownership.
What is the True Quality of Life You Are Hoping for By Owning This Home?
Finally, after considering the condition and cost of owning a particular house, you must make some hard decisions about the true quality of life you are aspiring to. What matters most? Space? Distance to and from work and schools? Age or condition of the house? What kind of financial risk and commitment are you comfortable with?
It turns out, there are usually a few non-negotiables for most people and there are also a few concessions most people will have to make with a home purchase. There is no perfect house out there, but there is a perfect house for you and your family. Just be sure to have equal measures of emotion and rational thinking mixed in when making this important decision.