Whenever you’re going shopping, there’s a list of things you need to look into, mainly the quality of the product/service. And buying a home isn’t any different.

I’ve been looking at homes here in South Florida since before we decided to make the move almost two years ago. One thing I’ve noticed is location means everything.

Locating The Best Areas
They say location is everything when it comes to buying property, but it really depends on your needs. For instance, there’s a home on our cul de sac that was sold for less than $400K that has a well maintained exterior but needs some minor work on the interior. It was purchased by a couple, and it seems to be their first purchase. For them, the location is great because it’s close to everything — the beach, shopping centers, major highways, etc. For us, this area is good for renting, which we are currently doing. As for raising a family, it’s a little tough if you’re concerned with the school system.

Further out on the west side of town are Grade A schools and more shopping centers. With Sebastian now in preschool, I spend a majority of my time heading down that way. That, and Costco is on that side of town. Although we’d be further away from the beach living out there, we’d be closer to better schools and even Sebastian’s preschool.

So, aside from the obvious “location, location, location,” what else should first-time home buyers be concerned with? Here are 4 additional things to keep in mind:

1. How much you’re willing to spend. 
Some people might think, “this is my budget and I’m sticking to it.” Truth is, your budget may or may not go up with the cost of remodeling/repairs. If you’re buying a new construction, you’re less likely to worry about repairs. But if you’re looking into a previously owned home, then your budget should include enough for possible repairs and remodeling costs.

2. What work needs to be done. 
We’ve been chating with realtors and other home owners on the topic of what issues we’re willing to work on based on the price of the homes we’ve viewed. Sometimes a stained ceiling means problems with the roof, or an issue that’s been solved and now there’s mold.

3. What are your monthly fees. 
Whether or not you can afford a new home isn’t the issue, it’s the monthly fees that will slowly add up and cost you way more than you had imagined. Jeff and I decided earlier on that we’d like to live in a community similar to the one we are currently renting. To make sure we stay within our budget, Jeff looks at the amount of monthly fees added to the mortgage, such as homeowners insurance, principal and interest, and mortgage insurance. For me, I like checking the home owners association fees and the amount of taxes the owners have paid throughout the years.

4. Where are you willing to compromise. 
This one is a little tough for Jeff, since he’s stuck on wanting a home that doesn’t have a side entrance. Most of the homes that are currently on the market in the area we’d like to live in have side entrances and it drives me nuts because they have potential otherwise.

Although we can’t seem to agree on the entrance of the home, there’s something we both feel wouldn’t be an issue — having a pool or not. We currently have a pool in our home, but we’d be okay with a large yard the kids can play in and, with time, add a pool and fix up the yard to our liking.

Do you have any other thoughts you’d like to add on the topic? 

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