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House Hunting Tips: 11 Things to Consider Before Buying a House

September 18, 2014

This is a guest post from Paul Curtis, broker at Red Door Realty and the host of Michigan Real Talk Radio.

What goes into making a good decision when buying a house? While there are many things to consider before buying a house, you’ll want to spend time carefully evaluating the 11 factors listed below.

  1. Prices. It is imperative to choose a price point that is in your comfort zone. People often talk about debt-to-income ratios at this point, but just because you’re pre-approved for a certain loan amount, doesn’t necessarily mean you should take on that much debt. Talk with your lender about your comfort zone to determine how much house you can afford and look for homes that fit within your budget. In the long run, you’ll be glad you did.
  2. School district. This is high on the list for a reason. Even if you don’t have any kids in school, school districts are the number one factor when it comes to home prices. Google the district and compare it to others in the area. You can always fix a house, but you can’t fix a school district.
  3. Property taxes. Every community has their own millage, which is used to determine the property tax rate. Have your real estate agent help you understand the difference in property tax between townships.
  4. Square footage. Again, this is a comfort zone issue. Does each kid NEED their own bedroom? You can always add square footage later. If you get a 203(k) loan, you can even roll the cost of remodeling into your mortgage. How about that!
  5. Crime rates. This information is readily available online, and something you’ll definitely want to factor into your home search. Again, you can fix a house, but you can’t change the crime rate in an area.
  6. High cost items. When you choose to buy a house, you also buy whatever future problems that home is going to have. Is the furnace old and inefficient? Are the shingles on the roof beginning to curl up? Is the deck worn and rotting out? Make a decision with a mind toward home maintenance and repair costs, too.
  7. Distance to work. It is highly unlikely that the cost of gas will go down over the next few years. Driving 30 minutes or more each way turns into thousands of dollars a year in fuel costs—not to mention the cost of wear and tear on your vehicle. I’ve had clients in the past tell me they wanted to move closer to work because their kids were growing up without them. The amount of traffic they experienced during their daily commute was causing them to miss out on important programs and sports their kids were involved with after school. At the other end of the spectrum, I’ve also had clients tell me they enjoy time alone in the car. Either way, you’ll want to consider how far your home will be from work and factor travel time into your consideration.
  8. Walkable areas. Today’s homebuyers are trending toward walkable districts. Many of us enjoy bike lanes and outdoor cafes. The chance to live outdoor lifestyles is as important as ever in our culture. Green spaces in cities, decks and patios on houses and neighborhoods with common areas are very popular these days.
  9. Community feel. An area that feels like home to you is an extremely subjective thing. When I lived out west, I missed red brick buildings. Having grown up in Southeast Michigan, I felt out of place in areas that were all siding or stucco finish.
  10. House style. Some people prefer two-story homes with bedrooms on the second floor. For others, stairs are a huge barrier. Some people prefer to have a basement, and others think of them as a potential problem. When it comes to style, the old saying applies—to each his own. Make sure the home you buy suits the lifestyle needs of your family. If you will have elderly parents or small children living with you, take their needs into consideration, too.
  11. Business/employment opportunities. Many business people join clubs with an eye toward networking within that club. A community may be thought about in similar terms. You never know what door opening experiences a community may provide, whether that be long lasting friendships or new career opportunities.

Buying a home is a big decision. Keep these factors in mind when you are shopping for your home. If you follow these tips, you’ll be able to weed out the deal breakers and narrow your search to find a home that fits your needs.

When it comes to buying a house, what factors are most important to you?

paul-curtisPaul Curtis is the broker of Red Door Realty and the host of Michigan Real Talk Radio, where Michigan comes to talk real estate, business and finance. You can hear Michigan Real Talk on Sundays at Noon on 92.7FM and 1400AM WDTK. Like the Michigan Real Talk Facebook Page for more powerful resources to help you #OwnYourDream or contact Paul through