So you’ve decided to buy a house: congratulations! Now the real work begins. How do you know what kind of house to buy? Besides the aesthetics, in reality, do you know how much space you actually need in your new dream home? There are a lot of things to consider before making that decision, so let’s overview a few of the deciding factors to consider how big you really need your home to be.
The first thing you need to do is look over your budget. Do not even call a realtor until you’ve considered how much money you have for a down payment, how much you can afford in a monthly mortgage, and have received a pre-approval letter from a lender (often your bank). It’s recommended to keep your mortgage at or below 30% of your gross income but consider your other expenses as well. If you have a significant amount of student debt or other payments such as cars, you may want to look in a lower price range than 30%. The last thing you want to do is buy a beautiful house, and then be so house poor that you have no furniture for it and can no longer afford to enjoy your lifestyle. Remember that just because you are approved for a certain amount, does not mean you have to spend that amount, and there are also additional hidden costs of owning a home, such as repairs, that will need to be budgeted in as well.
Next, let’s talk about who will be living in the home. Do you have children, or are you planning on having children? If not, go ahead and skip to the next paragraph. If the answer is yes, however, read on: how many kids do you have/want? Are you planning on having them share their bedrooms, or will they all need their own rooms, and how much space? In general children’s bedrooms don’t need to be very big, as many parents would prefer that they spend most of their time with the family, but that’s a personal preference. The size of the rooms also depends on the ages of the children, and if there is a dedicated toy room/area in the home – if not then it’s important to account for the space needed for their toys.
How long do you plan on living in this home? If you are planning on living in the home for 5-10 years, it may be acceptable not to have all of the items on your wish list checked off, but if you are planning on retiring in this home, you may choose to be pickier. If you are somebody who greatly enjoys home improvement projects then you can have more wiggle room on this, but if you know that you aren’t the kind of person who is going to want to do any extra work when you’re in your new home, it’s a good idea to look solely for a turn-key ready home.
In that respect, how much maintenance are you realistically willing to keep up with? The amount of cleaning you are willing to do, or willing to fit into your budget to pay somebody else to do, is an important thought to consider when deciding the size of your new home. This applies to your yard as well. It takes time and effort to keep up with a large yard, so if this is not something you want to commit to it may be a good idea to add to your list a smaller yard or extra room in the budget for a landscaper. When you have considered all of these factors, consider the size of the home you are currently living in as a comparison. Then talk it over with your realtor to narrow down a range of square footage that you are comfortable with, and happy hunting!