How to Find the Right Home

Depending on your budget, you may feel restricted by price ranges, especially if this is your first or second home purchase. Don't be discouraged. With the proper information and considerations, you can find a suitable home that meets your requirements and is affordable.

Suburbs, Country, or City

First, you should determine the location and neighborhood in which you wish to live. Consider the location such as the suburbs, country, or city, as well as the neighborhood.

Living in the suburbs or country is generally less expense and less populated than living in an urban area. Also look at the school system if you have or plan to have children, as well as the distance to stores, hospitals, and your employer. 

If you choose to live in an urban area, you may be closer to your employer, as well as within walking distance to theaters, restaurants, and schools. Urban areas may also have period homes, which offer more distinctiveness in style.  The downside to living in an urban populated area is higher crime rates and property costs, and vehicle and pedestrian noise.

Busy Street

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 or 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, as there's less vehicle traffic and noise.

Cons: Less privacy, neighbors know more about you.

Corner Lot

Pros: Often larger lots, with fewer neighbors and 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 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 difficult 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 items to bedrooms.

If the laundry room is on the second floor, washer leaks can be a major problem. Might need dual vacuum cleaners. It is difficult to maintain consistent temperatures on each level without dual heating and cooling units.

Split level

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. Inconvenient to carry items upstairs or downstairs, such as the trash or groceries. Kitchens tend to be smaller.

Interior Specifications

Number of bedrooms

Pros: Common minimum requested configurations are three bedrooms. Newer parents prefer bedrooms located on one level.

Cons: Two bedrooms appeal primarily to first-time home buyers, singles or seniors.

However, don't discount a two-bedroom house 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 if 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.

Garage

Attached

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.

Detached

Pros: Can be tucked away from site lines. Quieter.

Cons: More expensive to build. Farther to walk in bad weather.

Additional Considerations

Other items to consider when buying a home include:

  • School districts
  • Special amenities such as fireplaces, pools or spas
  • Condition of plumbing, electrical, heating, and cooling units
  • Available utilities such as cable or DSL satellite
  • Sewer, cesspool or septic connections

If you're handy with tools, you might save a lot of money if you also consider homes that need minor improvements, fresh paint, or new carpeting.

At the time of writing, Elizabeth Weintraub, DRE # 00697006, is a Broker-Associate at Lyon Real Estate in Sacramento, California.