Contributed by Maine Credit Unions
When looking to purchase a new home, a buyer should consider many factors. One is the location of the home. Because you may be living in the home for a long time, don’t overlook the importance of location. With research and an open mind, you will be able to find a location that will work well for you.
First and foremost, consider how much you realistically can afford to spend on housing because the cost of a home varies by geographic area – by neighborhood, town, and even state. The very same house can cost more or less in different areas. So knowing the average home price of a certain area helps you narrow down your search, and avoid wasting time looking in areas that are priced above or below your budget.
Home buyers should consider the cost of property taxes, which vary by location, and – in some cases — homeowner association fees. Property taxes must be paid every year, and typically increase over time. The tax rate is different in each town and the rate can make a big impact on the monthly payment. Not all properties have a homeowner’s association fee, but when they do, that amount, as well as what is covered by the fee, also varies and the cost of the fee will impact the monthly mortgage payment.
Next, think about what type of amenities and living environment you desire. Is the home close to places of employment, worship, or community centers? Are there good schools nearby for the children? Wealthier areas tend to have better resourced schools. If you would like outdoor space and the home does not have a large yard, look to see if there are neighborhood parks or other outdoor areas for activities. Additionally, visit nearby restaurants, shops, and recreational centers to see what these are like.
Once you have narrowed down potential locations based on budget and amenities, check out public transportation options and parking availability. For those who live in cities where public transportation is common or necessary, research what transit lines are available in the area, and what schedules are like. Be sure to find out if on- or off-street parking options are available and affordable.
Finally, take safety into consideration when selecting an area. Research crime rates in the area. One way to do this is to Google “crime rate” + “[name of a neighborhood or town].” Additionally, find out if any local neighborhood watch groups or other organizations work with residents to help create safe living environments.
Experienced homebuyers recommend doing thorough research on multiple locations before making any decisions about where to buy. It may take time to find the perfect location – but it’s better to take your time than to purchase a home in a location you later find does not serve you well.
A good place to begin a home search is on real estate websites such as zillow.com, redfin.com, and Realtor.com. Most people also use a real estate agent. An experienced agent can provide invaluable insight into different properties and homes, and can also guide you through the complex steps of purchasing a home. And the fee for real estate agents is usually paid by the home seller, so generally there is no cost to the buyer for working with an agent.