Financially speaking, purchasing real estate is a big step for most people. Whether you're purchasing it as a married couple to start a family, buying a home on your own to get out of the apartment-dwelling rat race, or simply want to purchase a house as an investment, there are some common factors to consider before deciding. This isn't the kind of decision you want to rush into, even if you see something you know to be your dream house. If you're going to be paying for something for the next 15 to 30 years, you want to make sure it is something you won't resent. Here are three important factors you can't ignore when buying a home.
Unless you're building your own home, purchasing real estate almost always entails buying a house "used". People don't talk about it in those terms, but that's essentially what you're doing. The house you're buying has 5, 10, maybe even as much as 30 years on it. Even for a well constructed house, this means something. And it means much more if the previous owners didn't take good care of it. The last thing you want is to buy a house only to realize that you're going to have to put thousands of dollars into repairs. Have a professional home inspector go in and look for damage you should be aware of.
Don't buy real estate based solely on the here and now. True, that one bedroom, small house might be all you need for you and your wife. But what about the future? Will you be having kids? Is there anything you might want with a bigger space somewhere down the line? These things should be considered when you buy. That's not to say that you are stuck in the house for the rest of your life; people move all the time. But you should buy a place with at least some measure of future-proofing.
Don't forget to factor in the neighborhood. The nicest house in the city isn't worth half its appraised value if it is located in a rough section of town. Remember, you're not just buying a piece of real estate, if you plan to live there. You need to think about your security as well. You might have a better experience with a house that isn't as good, but located in a safe, welcoming neighborhood. Drive around the place after dark, on the weekends, and at various other times to get a true sense of what you'll be living with.