Most people have a goal of buying a home at some point in their adult lives. When you’re shopping for a house, it’s easy to be drawn in by the aesthetic, but there are a lot of other things you need to consider, too. Here are some of the most important things to look for when buying a house to make sure it fits your needs and is a good long-term investment. 

1. Location & Neighborhood

The number one rule in real estate is: “Location, location, location.” This emphasizes the importance of location when buying a house. A home could have everything you want and be the perfect price, but if the location isn’t desirable then you won’t want to make an offer. Pay attention to the neighborhood, including how noisy it is and how well it is maintained. Think about how close the house is to grocery stores, schools, restaurants, and other places that are important to you. If you have or plan on having children, research the local schools to see if they would be a good fit for your child. Other things to consider include distance to work, transportation options, and flood risk.

2. Price

Wooden model of house balanced across from stack of gold coins

You don’t want to fall in love with a house that will break the bank. It’s important to figure out how much house you can afford and set a realistic budget, then look at houses in that price range. You may need to compromise on a house that doesn’t check every box to stay within budget, and that’s okay. The beauty of buying a home is you can update and customize it to your liking through small or large projects along the way. When done properly, these improvements can even help build home equity so you can sell the house at a higher price in the future. Make sure you leave some wiggle room in your budget to account for closing costs, moving expenses, and other one-time costs.

3. Size & Layout

There are a lot of options to choose from when it comes to buying a house. The size of a home you should purchase depends on your stage of life and personal needs. If it’s just you or you and a significant other, you could buy a condo as a more affordable option with enough space for your lifestyle. If you have a large family, you may need a larger single-family detached home. You need to consider how many bedrooms and bathrooms are ideal and what features you want in common living areas like the kitchen. Think about your current and future needs to decide how much square footage you need and whether there’s room to build onto the home. Consider the outdoor space and whether you want a garden, deck, swimming pool, etc. Other things to think about include the floorplan, parking situation, style and design of the home, and storage space.

4. Condition & Repairs Needed

Crack in exterior concrete wall

No house is perfect, not even a new construction. When you are buying a house, you need to look at its current condition and take note of what repairs are needed inside and out. Some issues may be cosmetic and easily fixed, while others could be unsafe. Ask about the age of the roof and look for signs of leaking. If the roof is old or damaged, the cost of replacing it may be more than you want to spend right away. Look for cracks, bowing, or bulges in the foundation, as these could be signs of structural issues. What is the condition of major systems like the HVAC, plumbing, and electrical? Test these if possible to make sure they are in good working order. This also applies to the appliances that are staying in the house. Additionally, make sure you check for mold, odors, and signs of vermin.

5. Property Taxes & HOA Fees

In addition to the price of the home, you should also be aware of the potential property taxes and homeowners association (HOA) fees of the properties you’re interested in. Both of these expenses can be costly. You can check with the county’s appraisal board or ask your real estate agent to find out the home’s estimated property taxes. If you are buying a house that has an HOA, you could face monthly or yearly dues. You should also look into the HOA’s rules and regulations, as these could affect what you can and can’t do with the home after you move in. Some HOAs have rules surrounding the modifications you can make, the types of pets you can own, etc.

Work with an Experienced Real Estate Agent to Find the Right Home

These are some of the most important things to look for when buying a house. An experienced real estate agent can help you find the right home that fits your needs and your budget. Not sure if you need an agent? Check out these great benefits of working with a real estate agent when buying a home to help you decide one would be helpful.