Purchasing a “Dream Home” is one of those life accomplishments that tops nearly everyone’s bucket list. Whether you prefer a modernized urban loft or a sprawling suburban home with a white picket fence, most of us hope to find a home that feels like it was made specifically for our family.
However, searching for your dream home comes with different considerations than any other real estate purchase. Since you’ll likely be aiming to stay in the property for the foreseeable future, you’ll want to look for a property that will keep you and your family happy for the long term. Don’t be afraid to be picky and hold out until you find a home that feels right.
How can you tell that you’ve found your perfect place? Most people say you’ll just know. Until then, use these tips you’re looking in the right area.
10 Factors to consider when buying your dream home
1. The features you’ve always wanted:
Congratulations, on looking for your dream home! You deserve it. It’s important to go into this purchase with a new mindset. In the past, you’ve probably looked for a property that met your needs – it had enough bedrooms for the whole family or the commute to work was a breeze.
This is different. A dream home is more about fulfilling wishes than meeting needs. Don’t be afraid to make a sizable wish list. Everyone’s wish list is different. Some may dream of waking up each morning to watch the sunset rise over a lake while others hope for picturesque snow-capped mountains. While you may love the thought of having a community fitness center just a few steps away, your partner might prefer the secluded quiet of a single home.
Have each person in your family make a list of the features that they crave. Then, rank each of those features by importance. While it’s unlikely that you’ll find a property that will check off every single box on this list, this exercise will help you focus on properties that work for all of you.
2. The neighborhood and surrounding area:
Remember, that your property does not exist in a bubble. It’s part of a larger community that you will exist in on a daily basis. With that in mind, it’s critical that you find a neighborhood that suits your needs before buying. Is your great escape one that gives you all the peace of a secluded forest or tons of energy from a bustling city center? Do you want to be able to walk to a coffee shop each morning or would you prefer not to have to contend with potentially noisy neighbors? Whatever your heart desires, don’t hesitate to do your research before starting your search.
Take a drive and spend some time there, if possible. Go out to eat at local restaurants and take a walk through a nearby park. Once you find areas that you like, let your real estate agent know. He or she will use this information to focus in on showing you will have you feeling comfortable.
3. Lot location and size:
The lot is often an afterthought when it comes to purchasing a property, but it should be in the forefront of buyers’ minds. It is the one thing about a property that cannot really be altered. Think about it: You could knock down a house and rebuild it from scratch, but regardless of the changes you make, the lot will stay the same.
When looking at specific properties, consider the lot’s location and size carefully before submitting an offer. Do you long for a back yard big enough for your kids to run around in? Does the lot have a view that you can see yourself enjoying for years to come?
If anything about the lot seems like a compromise to you, don’t hesitate to walk away. It will easier to find a similar property on a better lot than it will be to continually settle for a less-than-adequate location day in and day out.
4. The age of a property:
When it comes to buying a home, especially the home you’ve been thinking about for your entire life, age does make a difference. Buying older homes and brand new ones each have their pros and cons, so be aware of what you’re signing up for before you submit an offer. Do you swoon over the irreplaceable charm offered by old homes? Would you fall in love with a property that offered it’s own built in dumbwaiter and a hidden servant’s staircase? If so, tailor your search to those historical diamonds-in the rough. However, be aware that older homes tend to require a bit more TLC than their newer counterparts.
Alternatively, does your ideal property require no more work than turning the key in the front door? Do you dream of a closet large enough to hold your more-than-substantial wardrobe and an updated master bath that feels like a spa? In that case, new construction may be a better fit. If you can get in on the ground floor, you may even be able to select certain features while the home is being built and customize it further to your tastes.
5. Your ideal home style:
Whether it’s a style of living or the actual aesthetic of your property, you want to make sure your home is one that you’ll feel proud to pull up to each day. Since how a home looks is one of the first things that you (and others) notice about a property, finding a style of home that fits your personality is absolutely key.
Single homes make a great choice for those want the freedom to customize a property to their exact specifications. Condo living is for people who want to own their own home while still having access to hotel-style amenities. Town home living offers a compromise between the two, but each association is different, so make sure you’re aware the policies associated with each community.
Once you know which style of living you prefer, focus in on aesthetic. A modern and minimalist condo community obviously looks like night and day from a Victorian single property. As you go about your day, think about the different types of homes you see. Make a note of the one’s you could see calling home and which styles are a complete turnoff.
6. The right amount of space:
The trick when it comes to finding your dream home is figuring out how much space you truly need. Buying a home that is too small for your family will leave you continually trying to configure the space to make it work for you. In the same vein, buying a property that is too large will allow you to spread out, but will wrack up large costs.
Think about the space that you currently live in. How does it feel? Do you have enough bedrooms or do multiple family members have to share? Is there enough storage for all of your belongings?
In addition to considering your current living situation, you should also consider your plans for the future. If you think you may be making an addition to your family sometime soon, plan for a little extra room. Ideally, you’ll want a happy medium that will give you room to grow without going overboard.
7. A layout you love:
Not all square footage is created equal, which is where the floor plan comes into play. If you compare two properties that are 2,000 square feet, one could dedicate most of the space to the living area while the other could focus on more spacious bedrooms.
While it is possible to redesign your floor plan after moving into the home, it’s a long process that requires a huge commitment of time and finances. Unless you are particularly handy, it’s a project that will require hiring a team of contractors.
Be sure to focus on finding a layout that is as close to perfect for you as possible. Picture yourself using the space as you walk through the property. Think about things you’d like to do over the years you spend in your dream home. If you take pride to host the family holiday party every year, consider an open-concept plan that will you’re your guests plenty of room to roam. However, if each of your family members relishes in having their own private space, a more traditional layout might be a better option.
8. The potential for future projects:
Even your dream home is going to require a little bit of customization – as it should. Whether you’ve spent years wishing for a chef-style kitchen, poolside backyard oasis, or a tricked-out media room, it’s unlikely that those features will be exactly to your specifications from the moment you sign the deed.
Keep an eye on how much customization will be required in each property you see. Be honest with yourself about how much of that work you’ll be able to handle, even if it happens slowly over time. If you know your way around power tools, make sure you’re okay with the investment of time that will be required. If you’d prefer to have a professional do the job, get ready to set aside a sizable chunk of change. Think about projects that are big and small – everything from painting the dining room to completely gutting your master bathroom.
9. Costs that make you comfortable:
This is not the most fun factor to think about, especially not when compared to upgrades and aesthetics. But, if cost is not considered, your dream home could end up becoming more of a worry than an escape.
Try not to stretch yourselves to the furthest reaches of your budget. Remember that there are more costs to consider than just the monthly mortgage payment. You should also consider local taxes, monthly utility costs, and association fees when purchasing. Once you submit an offer on a property, have your agent get in contact with the sellers. He or she can ask can ask them to provide a breakdown of their average monthly and yearly payments.
An extra note of caution: Keep in mind that these costs will stay consistent over time. You’ll still need to account for them if your circumstances change such as retirement or an expected layoff. Leave a little breathing room in your budget, so that you’ll feel comfortable staying in your dream home for many years to come.
10. Compromises you can handle:
As important as it is to be aware of what you’d love to find in your dream home, it’s equally important to take stock of which facets of homeownership will make you miserable. That way, you can guide your home search away from those qualities and avoid having your idealistic living experience marred by a feature you cannot change.
If you cannot stand living on top of your neighbors, focus on searching a smaller property that will allow you to have more breathing room on your lot or expand your target area to a less-populated space. If you absolutely cannot abide by the idea of spending you weekends doing extensive pool maintenance, be wary of buying a property that includes one, even if you love the rest of the home. Every property is going to come with some sort of compromise, but when you are talking about your dream home, they should feel minimal.
As a rule of thumb, if you spend more time after a showing focusing on the one less-than-desirable aspect of a property rather than the handful of good qualities it has to offer, the compromise is too is not worth it.
The bottom line
Everyone deserves to find their dream home. With the right amount of research, it is possible. Use these important factors as points of consideration as you and your family begin the home buying process. They’ll help you focus in on the qualities that a property must have in order to be your perfect fit.