Pick Your Place: How to Find the Perfect Home

When you’re looking for a new place to live, whether it’s a townhouse, condo, apartment, or single-family home, you’ll want to start by assessing your needs and determining what’s most important to you in terms of amenities. You’ll also need to decide whether it makes more sense to rent a home or purchase one.

Pros and Cons of Renting

If you’re renting a home, you don’t have to worry about a down payment or monthly mortgage payments. Your property management company will likely take care of maintenance issues, which means you won’t have to fork out thousands of dollars if the air-conditioning or heating goes out. The downside to renting is you’re probably limited in the terms of physical changes you can make to your space. Likewise, you’re not building any equity by paying someone else month by month. According to Rent.com, renting can be a great option when you’re new to an area and trying to decide where you’d best like to live, you’re in between jobs, or you’re not quite ready from a financial perspective to invest in real estate.

Pros and Cons of Buying

When you buy a home, it’s yours to do with as you like in terms of making  modifications. You’ll have to come up with a down payment when you take out a mortgage, and lenders will want to calculate your debt-to-income ratio to determine how much you can realistically pay each month. You can actually calculate this yourself by adding up your existing monthly debt obligations and dividing it by your gross monthly income. According to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, you’ll also have to have a good credit score to qualify for the best interest rates. Once you buy a house, you can often deduct mortgage interest if you’re running a home-based business or using any part of your home for work. As long as the market is healthy, your house will continue to build equity and will be a viable investment.

Finding the Right Spot

Whether you’re renting or buying, you’ll want to search properties based on the criteria of what’s most important to you. For example, what’s your price range? How many bedrooms do you need? Are you comfortable being located on a busy street with easy access to the highway, or do you prefer a quiet cul-de-sac or even a rural area? Do you prefer one story or two? Big yard or no yard? The age of the home can also be important, particularly if you’re buying and you’re considering how much you might have to shell out for repairs in the future. A seasoned professional real estate agent can be a big help when it comes to finding your ideal property.

Proximity to Amenities

Access to amenities is something else to consider when looking for a new residence. How far are you willing to drive to the grocery store, doctor’s office, gym, or entertainment and shopping districts? If you have school-aged kids, you’ll also want to check out the quality of the local school districts, and if you have pets, access to dog parks can be beneficial. Also consider how close you are to things like hiking and biking trails, and natural resources. While it might not seem like a big deal to drive an extra 10 miles for this-and-that, if you’re in rush hour traffic, it can be a bit more onerous.  

When you’re choosing a place to live, there are a number of factors to think about. There’s cost, location, amenities, and your desire to either be a property owner or be happy as a renter. Give careful thought to your financial situation and your family’s needs before making a decision.

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