Buying your first home means making decisions – lots of them! In order to make the best possible decisions, you need good information and a sound home buying plan. Without such a framework, you could find yourself in a home you quickly outgrow…or in a home that may be unaffordable in the long run.

Fortunately, your Exclusive Buyer Agent will provide you with excellent information throughout the home buying process. To begin your home buying plan, keep these 5 things in mind!

1. Needs vs. wants. Smart home buying means compromise. Prioritize the essentials – the number of bedrooms and baths, the size of the garage or parking space, and so on. Think about your daily lifestyle. If you prefer take-out to cooking, a big kitchen isn’t essential.

2. Location. When you buy a home, you buy the neighborhood. Consider the quality of the school district, even if you do not have children. School quality affects the desirability of a location, and therefore affects your home’s resale value.

Also consider the distance to your job and the access to major roads and public transportation. Are there medical services nearby? Are there amenities close to home?

3. Property taxes, HOA dues, and insurance costs. Property taxes can vary significantly from one area to another! Property taxes can increase; tax assessors generally re-evaluate market values every 3 years. Tax rates can also increase even if home values do not.

Homeowner association dues can also increase. It’s important to know the financial health of the HOA as well as its rules, deed restrictions and monthly dues. HOAs can preserve home values in a neighborhood, but they can also create headaches.

Get quotes from several companies when shopping for homeowner’s insurance. Bundling your homeowner’s coverage with auto insurance usually provides a discount. You can lower premiums by having a higher deductible, but do not to exceed what you can handle.

4. Maintenance and repair costs. Common maintenance tasks like lawn care, cleaning gutters, changing furnace filters, and caulking windows are relatively easy, but if you aren’t a do-it-yourself person, you may be hiring handymen. Even the most devout D-I-Y homeowner sometimes needs a plumber or contractor. Keep repair funds set aside.

5. Long-term goals. Do you plan on starting a family or inviting an aging parent to live with you? Is the home affordable enough to allow you to save for retirement or save for a child’s education?

Think about how homeownership works with your current priorities and lifestyle – and how it will work for you in the future. Your Exclusive Buyer Agent will provide you with expert guidance, but the decisions are yours!

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