How to Choose the Right Home

For first-time buyers and repeat buyers alike, the decision to make an offer on a home is both exciting and a little scary. If your offer is accepted, the place you’ve chosen will be your home for the next several years. Not only should you feel emotionally satisfied by your choice, but you should also feel financially comfortable that you’re buying a home that you can afford and that you feel confident will hold onto its value or hopefully increase in value over the years.

While no one can know for sure what will happen to housing values, if you make the choice to buy a home that meets your needs and priorities you’ll be happy to live in it for years to come.

Neighborhood or Home Amenities

For some homebuyers, living in a particular neighborhood takes precedence over all other priorities, but for others, the home itself matters more. Ideally, you’ll find the perfect home in the neighborhood you love at a price that’s below your budget, but realistically, most people have to make some compromises.

You (and your spouse, partner or family) should make a list of what features you want in a home, such as the number of bedrooms, a fenced yard, granite counters in the kitchen, and then rank them in terms of priorities. Think about whether the house or the community matter more to you, and whether it’s worth it to you to make a longer commute in order to live in a home with a larger lot.

When to Compromise

Once you’ve determined whether the location or the house itself matters most, you may have to compromise on some of your priorities. If the location is the most important factor for your home choice but you find that homes are priced above your budget, you can compromise in several ways:

  • Look for a different home type within the community, such as a smaller single family home, a town home or condominium. Decide if you can live with one less bedroom or other features on your list.
  • Consult with a lender or a financial planner to discuss your options for increasing your budget. While no one should overspend on a home, you should recognize that going $10,000 above your price range when you’re financing your purchase with a 30-year fixed-rate loan will actually add only about $30 to your monthly payment.
  • Lower your expectations about the condition of the home. While everyone prefers a move-in ready home, you can often get a better deal on a home that needs some cosmetic repairs. Be careful, though, to have a home inspection and to evaluate the structure of the home to see that it meets your needs. Moving walls and adding a bathroom are costly renovations, while painting and replacing appliances are more reasonable.

If you have your heart set on a specific home style or a home with a larger yard for your children or to garden, your compromise is more likely to be in the location. If you’re willing to commute farther or perhaps choose a home in a community next to the ‘hot’ neighborhood, you can often find a more affordable home that fulfills your wish list.

An experienced Realtor can help you determine when and how to compromise and should take the time to show you a variety of alternatives so you can make an informed decision about when to make an offer.

8 thoughts on “How to Choose the Right Home

  1. Jasper Whiteside

    I think that an important step in compromise is prioritizing. The article gives the example that location would be what matters most. It would be easy to decide what you are willing to compromise on if you’ve prioritized the bottom of your list and know what you are willing to give up.

  2. Jen Pack

    My husband and I have decided that now is a great time in our personal situation, as well as our financial situation, to buy a single family home. However, we want to make sure that we’re picking the best one for us and our needs, so I really appreciate this information. I like the tip you give of making a list of features that we really want to see in a home before we start looking. This also includes what we want in the community and design of the house. I think we will have the best luck if we hire a real estate agent that knows the areas we are looking at and can negotiate for us.

  3. Rachel Lannister

    My husband and I are looking for a home where we can raise our children. In your article it says that you should consider things like number of bedrooms, fenced yard, and what the kitchen is like. We already have a couple of dogs, so a fence is already a mandatory item on our list. I’ll be sure to tell my husband about these features we should consider.

  4. Frank Delaware

    My friend is thinking about getting a home for his family, but he wasn’t sure how to choose the right one. I really like that you say to consider what is most important, then compromise. It would be nice to find something in a good location and then maybe get a smaller house.

  5. Annika Larson

    Choosing a home is definitely a big decision, and it’s important to make the decision that will benefit your family. I am currently trying to find a home for my little family, and it’s hard to find something that fits for location and budget. Your suggestion to look at different home types, such as a single family home, is very helpful. We’ll have to do this. Thanks for sharing!

  6. Tomas Killington

    My wife and I are in the market for a new home. There are a few traits we want in our new house, but we’re not sure what other things we should look for. I didn’t realize how important it is to find out what amenities are offered int he neighborhood to ensure you are close to all the things you like to do. I’ll be sure to remember this consideration moving forward.

  7. Gloria Durst

    I agree that the neighborhood is really important when choosing a home. It would make sense to find somewhere that will be good for your family before you move. I’m looking for a new home, so I’ll have to consider the school district and neighborhood as well.


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