While homebuying may not have been a mainstream idea even a generation ago, today, people do tend to see homeownership as the natural step that follows, once they get a job and start a family. The fact that mortgage rates are lower now than ever before only helps make the decision to buy, an easy one to arrive at. Once you are sure that your financial position, career stability and plans for the future allow committing to 20 or 30 years of steady mortgage payments, buying does turn into a meaningful idea.
As one among the largest investments that you will ever make, though, a homebuying decision does need to come with some tough questions. You don't want to find that the home that you put so much into falls short of expectations.
Do you know what the crime rate is for the neighborhood?
Neighborhood crime rates can be affected by a number of variables, many of which may not actually occur to you as even relevant. It's important, then, to pay attention to well-researched projections and statistics for crime rates the area that you plan to buy a home in, and all surrounding neighborhoods.
Buying in an area with a low crime rate today may not be enough, either. Trends are known to change, after all. Rather, it can make sense to buy in areas that are traditionally associated with low crime rates. Buying close to a university, for instance, is some assurance of a healthy state of affairs well into the future.
What kind of community restrictions are in place?
Buying in a strictly overseen community has its pluses and minuses. In completely unrestricted neighborhoods, for instance, you could find your neighbors turning their homes into large AirBnB party house operations. This can be an annoyance, because it puts potentially poorly behaved strangers in your neighborhood on a regular basis.
Another neighbor could turn his house into a CrossFit gym, generating frightful amounts of noise at all times of the day. Buying in a community can ensure that the value of your investment isn't linked to the idiosyncrasies of neighbors. Many communities simply ban such activities. On the other hand, they also make it hard for you to enjoy other freedoms that you may want, such as the right to decorate the outside of your home in any way you want. It's important to strike a balance.
You should know that it isn't crazy to buy a second home first
According to real estate major R.A. Bennett, many people decide to take both the renting and homeownership choices together. They would rather own their own vacation home out in the countryside, a place where they know that they will go all their lives. As for the home that they actually live in year-round and work out of, they prefer the flexibility of renting.
Such a plan can work out well, because it means that people are able to afford housing in central locations close to work by renting, but are still able to get into ownership, and take advantage of all the benefits that come with it.
How old is the home that you're interested in buying?
An old home may be charming, and make you feel good inside. It is likely to have been built long before environmental protection and energy-saving laws came into effect, though. This means that the home that you love could have asbestos and radon contamination, and could have solid walls, rather than cavity walls. Homes built out of unsafe building materials can cause diseases, and the lack of cavity walls can mean high heating bills. Home inspections do not always uncover these problems. It's up to you to ask the right questions.
Is the home mold free?
Mold is surprisingly common in homes across Britain. Poor ventilation and poor bathroom design aid it. With the high level of indoor warmth and humidity that winters bring, mold is all but a certainty. It is so common that many inspectors will simply mention it in passing. It's up to homebuyers to ask pointed questions, and determine that a mold problem isn't likely to be too hard to clear away.
Can you afford the upkeep?
Falling mortgage rates mean that you may be able to afford a large home now. This isn't the same thing as being able to afford running it, though. Larger homes mean larger utility bills, maintenance costs, insurance, property taxes, repair bills and much more. These can add up to hundreds of pounds more each month than a regular two-bedroom house. You need to make sure that you can afford to keep up such expense indefinitely.
Finally, make sure that you know what the rules are on running a home business
Home-based businesses are tremendously popular across the country today, with roughly one in ten residential homes acting as bases for such activities. It's important to make room for the possibility that your family member will need to start a business one day from home. Not every community allows this, though. Some flat complexes have strict rules about activities that may change the residential character of the area.
Buying a home is a very long-term investment. Many of the questions that you need to ask may sound unnecessarily cautious today. The truth is, though, that it's important to plan far into the future.
Elise Shaw provides mortgage funding solutions and she is always looking to offer her tips and ideas online. She is a regular writer for several property and lifestyle websites.