Buying your first home – Don’t get more home than you can handle

Buying a home is undoubtedly one of biggest purchases you’ll make in your life. The last thing you want to do is buy something that’s not right for your needs.
Before you set out to buy a home, the best thing you can do is sit down and make a list of all the things you want in a home. After that list is finished, a second list should be made of all the things you need in a home. Most often these turn out to be completely different lists.

The first thing to consider is what type of home you want. Are you looking for a single family home, a townhouse or a condominium? These three major choices come with their own sets of pros and cons.

Buying your first home – don’t get more home than you can handle

When you buy a single family home, you buy the property it sits on. There may be few or no restrictions on changes or improvements you can make; it is essentially your own little castle. Depending on the market, the resale value of a single family home can be better than other forms of housing. However, all upkeep of the property is your responsibility; repair work on the interior, exterior and yard are yours. So if you hate mowing the lawn and the thought of painting the outside of a house is depressing, you may want to think again about this type of homeownership.

If you like the idea of owning some property but hate the idea of maintenance, buying a townhouse is a great alternative. They usually have a small back yard that you own, so you have the opportunity to do some landscaping without being overwhelmed by a huge yard. Most townhouse communities are governed by a homeowners’ association that you are required to join; they collect a monthly, or in some cases annual, fee to fund repairs to the exterior of the building. When your building needs a new roof or a new coat of paint, the work is paid for out of your association dues. Some townhouse communities have the added benefits of pools or recreation centers and even parks and common areas for children. The drawback of living in a townhouse community is the loss of privacy, as most often you will have neighbors on either side of you. You also can’t add on to these homes if you need additional space.

If you want your own space with no responsibility for outside maintenance or repairs, then you might want to consider buying a condominium. Condo living is the most like apartment living. A condominium is usually governed by an association that takes care of exterior work such as painting and mowing. If an exterior repair needs to be done, such as new asphalt in the parking area, and the association fees aren’t enough to cover the cost, additional fees will be collected from all owners. Most condos offer amenities like pools, tennis courts, barbeque areas and party rooms; and the maintenance on these areas is paid for by the association fees. A major drawback to condo living is reduced privacy; not only do you have neighbors on either side, but they could be above and below as well. When it comes time to sell your condo, it generally takes longer to sell and the resale value is not as high as a single family home.

As you can see, figuring out your wants and needs in a home can save you a great amount of time and money. If you plan wisely, you won’t have buyer’s remorse for buying something that in the long run you know you can’t handle.

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