Finding Your Just Right Home

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Are you ready to live happily ever after? Read this first.

According to a recent survey by Trulia, 50% of homeowners and 56% of renters have regrets after moving to a new home. Why are so many people (and perhaps you) making housing decisions that are not working?  And the most important question of all, how can you go about finding your just right home?

Navigating the housing market today is a riddle. First you have to consider what you are told you should do (“you can’t buy a house without– insert any number of bells and whistles here”). Next you add into the mix what you think you want (a large yard for the kids to play in, only the kids are overly programmed and are never at home to play in the yard). And finally, there is what you actually need (a home that fits your lifestyle and budget). Finding the right fit is easier than you think, but it requires looking at ‘home’ with a fresh lens and an open mind. Here are five things to consider before making a move.

Plan for future life changes, but be honest about your present realities

Consider how your household formation might change in the next five to ten years and look for a home that can accommodate these changes: a new baby, kids leaving the nest, kids returning to the nest, or perhaps elderly parents moving in with you. While you plan ahead for possible changes of who will be living in your home, don’t bank on a future raise or inheritance to fund your current home. Only purchase what you can afford now.

Account for hidden costs

The cost of a home doesn’t end with the mortgage or monthly rent. Consider how much it will cost to get to and from the home as well as how much it costs to heat and cool the home. It is easy to get seduced into a ‘drive ‘til you qualify house,’ a larger home farther away from your work. But, with unstable gas prices, you might get caught with huge monthly bills for transportation. Double check the length of commute by testing it out at rush hour, make sure you are okay with both the time you are spending behind the wheel, as well as the costs of driving. Additionally, make sure to ask for a year’s worth of power bills, which goes for renting and or purchasing. Many homes built between 1995 and 2005 are energy hogs and can cost you hundreds of dollars a month to operate.

Forget about location – look for proximity

Location is a place. Proximity is where that place is in relation to the things you have to do in a day and the things you want to do with your free time. Take time to consider all of the places you go daily (work, school, restaurants) and the things you do weekly (dry cleaning, grocery shopping). Think also about how you want to spend your free time (sporting activities, shopping, eating out) the less time you spend getting to and from these activities, the more time you will have for yourself and your family.

 All square feet aren’t made equal

The design and layout of a home, not the number of square feet, will define how it feels when you are in it. For example, a home with eight foot ceilings and four foot windows on one wall will feel and work very differently than the same size home with ten foot ceilings and six foot tall windows on multiple walls. Consider also if a home is easily furnishable and there is enough storage to minimize clutter. Some larger homes have all the space you could need, but only a fraction of it is usable. Additionally, a home that seamlessly connects to the outdoors or is within walking distance of restaurants and shops will also make your life feel much larger than a home that is isolated and completely auto-dependent.

Timing is everything – so don’t jump in just to jump

It isn’t a great deal if you can’t afford it or the house doesn’t meet your needs. The housing market is recovering and there are good ‘deals’ to be found, but a deal is only worth it for you if the house will accommodate future growth, is within your current budget – including cost to operate and maintain – is in reasonable proximity to your needs and fits your life.

By Marianne Cusato.  Marianne is an award-winning designer and author. Her latest book, The Just Right Home – Buying, Renting, Moving, or Just Dreaming – Find Your Perfect Match! is available now.

Marianne Cusato--credit Alex Fagundo, Soul Echo Studios - New Homes and Ideas magazine


To find your perfect match here in the Triangle, pick up a copy of New Homes & Ideas Magazine or check out our Triangle-area new home guides.

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