Finding the Perfect Home

Factors to Consider When Buying a Home

By United Realty Group

Buying a new home is one of the biggest decisions you’ll ever make, and one that you may only make a handful of times in your life. When you are house-hunting, the price, number of bedrooms and bathrooms, and the amazing kitchen will certainly influence your decision, but there are many other significant factors to consider before making an offer. Depending on your personal needs and preferences, finding the “perfect” home that encompasses every one of the elements below may be challenging. Thus, it is imperative to prioritize your preferences to ensure that you don’t settle for anything less than what you’re willing to sacrifice. A home is much more than an investment, so focus on the aspects that will enrich your lifestyle, and at the very least add a level of convenience to your daily routine.

The Location

Three blue street signs with arrows labeled Location

Prospective homebuyers all have their own set of priorities, must haves, and key elements when starting their home search. It must, however, begin with location, location, location. A good location will mean different things to different people, but no matter what you’re looking for, location will be the primary influencer in many of your deciding factors. What exactly does location entail, and why is it important?

  • Safety: The safety of your family should be the number one priority. While no area is completely safe, some areas provide better protection and have less crime than others. Knowing which areas of the community are low-risk will help keep your family safer and more secure.
  • The Lot: Many homebuyers purchase a home based on their love for the house, but it is also important to remember that you buying a piece of land. This lot cannot be relocated and its proximity to different elements may make it more or less desirable, therefore affecting the future resale value. For example, a home located on a busy road or backing to commercial property may be available at a lower price, but will be more difficult to sell later. Alternatively, a house with a wonderful view or near a body of water is likely to be more valuable, both now and when it comes time to sell it.
  • The Site: Beyond the lot location, be sure to look at the site of the home. Is there a nice view or do you look directly into your neighbor’s windows? Is the backyard appropriate for children, pets, gardening or entertaining? Is the driveway elevation access to the property safe, and are there a lot of stairs to climb to get to the front door?
Two girls and a boy raising their hands in the air outside of school with a smile
  • Good Schools: Well-rated school districts are a must for homebuyers with children, as well as for the resale value. A safe walking distance that includes sidewalks, crosswalks, and crossing guards, or a reliable bus system is essential. Do the schools have good teacher-to-student ratios, test scores, special needs and gifted programs, family/student aid, and bi-lingual support? These are all important features you should inquire about when doing your home search of the area.
  • Vital Services: Families may have a need to be near vital community services. For example, living a short ride from a police or fire station, hospital or urgent care facility in case of an emergency is important. Close proximity to a church or other religious facility may also be considered a priority.
  • Public Transportation: In some areas, access to affordable public transportation is critical to keep commute times reasonable. Consider your distance to roads, bus stops, subway stations, and public bike-share locations. If going green appeals to you, then living near public transportation might be a consideration worth investing in.

Neighborhood and Community Matters

A couple walking their large dog along a nice neighborhood sidewalk

Finding a neighborhood and a community that fits your lifestyle, matching a location you love, can make you can feel right at home. A neighborhood with a central gathering spot or planned social events and activities is perfect for cultivating new friendships. Finding one that appeals to you will be a matter of personal choice, but there are a few critical factors that most homeowners seek in their perfect community.

  • Accessibility: The work commute is a big part of the day for many, so a home with easy access to roads may be more desirable than one tucked away that can only be accessed by one route.
  • Appearance: It is exciting to visit new homes and areas, but be sure to pay close attention to the aesthetics. In a neighborhood that is visually pleasing, new buyers get a sense of belonging as well as a feeling that existing homeowners are a cohesive group taking pride in their homes and community. Paved roads, shady trees, quality landscaping, nearby parks or community spaces, and well-groomed homes can have a positive impact on prices, which is great for resale value.
  • Amenities: Many homebuyers find that close proximity to shopping, dining, and entertainment is important when choosing a new neighborhood. If staying active is a priority, you may be looking for nearby fitness centers, pools or areas that offer hiking and biking trails, on-site playgrounds, and parks. These type of neighboring amenities will typically improve a home's value.
Blueprints on a table with a pencil, protracor and ruler laying on top
  • Noise: Whether it’s a steady buzz of traffic or the commotion from nearby commercial centers, the presence of noise is often a big turnoff for buyers. If you find that the noise level is not going to lessen, and will be too uncomfortable to deal with on a continual basis, it may be best to walk away before you commit to the neighborhood and home.
  • Future Developments: A location may seem ideal, but it is important to inquire as to whether there are plans to substantially change the area in the near future, such as any new businesses or residential construction. Then, consider how these additions might affect the desirability of the neighborhood and community. Some commercial development and plans for new schools, medical facilities, public transportation, and other civic infrastructure can dramatically improve property values in the area.

Your Home

Concept of blueprints of new design overlaying current living room layout and decor

Your new home should reflect your lifestyle and goals. Do you have children, or plan to in the future? Do you like to entertain? Do you work from home and need a home office space?

  • Size and Floor Plan: Think about how the new home space will be used and whether it will fit your lifestyle now and in the future.
  • Bedrooms and Bathrooms: Decide how many bedrooms and bathrooms you need, and only look at homes that meet that criteria. An extra bedroom is always a plus, as it can be used for a home office, craft studio or guest room.
  • Kitchen: If the kitchen is your gathering space and heart of your home, don't settle for a home where the kitchen doesn’t work. Remodeling is very costly, so this is one area you don’t want to sacrifice.
  • Closets and Storage: Older homes tend to have small closets and very little storage space, where newer homes will have bigger closets and more storage space. If you have a lot of clothes, sports equipment, holiday decorations, etc., be sure to factor that into your decision-making process.
  • Windows and Lighting: Look at a home with light and sunshine in mind, seeking out electrical outlets and fixtures. Do you prefer naturally bright and sunny, and will the lighting accommodate your needs?
  • Upgrades: Sometimes the simplest home looks spectacular because of upgrades that have been installed, such as crown moldings, banisters and railings, and cabinetry hardware. If these elements are important to you, look for them while house hunting or be ready to add them after you move in.

Homeowners Associations

Homeowners association booklet laying on wooden table next to a blue highlighter

The presence of a Homeowners Association (HOA) does influence a buyer’s decision to live in a particular neighborhood. Some are favorable to the idea that homeowners must keep a tidy yard, have structured paint, fencing and roof styles, etc. Others do not want an HOA having that much control over their property choices. Whatever your preference, it is important to be aware of the neighborhoods with HOAs in place to assist in your decision-making process.


While most consumers expect to pay their share of taxes, they do not want to pay more than is necessary, especially when it comes to real estate purchases. Contact your local municipality and find out what the assessed value of the home you are considering is to determine the property taxes of the home over the next few years. Your local real estate agent can also obtain the information for you.

Choosing the right location, neighborhood, and house to call home for a long period of time, perhaps the rest of your life, is a multi-layered and demanding process. It is not easy to find every element you desire, but make a list of your priorities and then calculate the pros and cons for the homes and the neighborhoods you are thinking considering. Whatever you choose, contribute to the community and do what you can to keep your home as valuable, or more so, as it was when you moved into it.

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