Sep 2004

Four Dimension of Buying a Home

Your dream house would be in the best neighborhood or on a acreage surrounded by magnificent scenery. It would be made with materials you see in the best homes, installed using fine craftsmanship. It would contain all the spaces you would need to do and be everything you want to do. Your dream house would also be able to be purchased at a price where the mortgage you would pay would not restrict your lifestyle and would add to your feeling of financial security.

Unless money is not an object, this scenario certainly is a dream. Few of us can buy our ideal home without making numerous compromises. The areas where these compromises are made can be divided into four dimensions: location, size, quality and cost. Before you get serious about buying it would be helpful to consider these different aspects of a home.

Location, Location, Location- As an individual or as a family, where your house is located becomes your interface with society and affects how you think of yourself. Your interests and your values are reflected in the neighborhood where you choose to live. How important is it to live in a neighborhood of higher priced homes? How important is architectural style, trees, a quiet neighborhood, a view? Do you think of yourself as urban? How important is a feeling of community? Is it important to take walks in a country like setting? Do you need to be close to stores and gathering places? No other factor effects the price of a house as much as where it is located.
Size- There is a tendency in our culture to want more. Bigger is better. Bigger also costs more. Look at the spaces you need in your home? Can some of the spaces serve multifunctions? Do you really need that formal dining room that is used four times a year? Do you really need four bedrooms if you have only one or two children? Do you really need a three-car garage? If the house does not have all the space you will need, is there the potential of adding space in the future? The bigger the house, the more there is to maintain. How do you feel about maintenance?
Quality - What kind of materials, craftsmanship and amenities do you want in your house? Make a list of what is important to you? What would you put in a new house if you were building one? Older homes sometimes have a certain character that can not be reproduced in newer homes. Is that important to you? When looking at a house compare the quality of the home with the lists you have made. How does it match? What would you have to add? What would you like to change? Take these costs in mind when evaluating the price and suitability of the home.
Cost - A home is the biggest, most important purchase a household will probably make. How important is it for you to think of the purchase in terms of an investment in the future? How long do you plan to live in this house? How much of a mortgage are you prepared to assume? What is your future earning power? How much will the mortgage payment restrict your lifestyle? What sacrifices are you willing to make to get the house you want?
This is a overview of each of the four dimensions. Which dimension is the most important to you? Where will you least be able to compromise? Where do you feel most able to compromise?

Let these feelings evolve as you start to look at houses. It is also helpful to discuss these feelings with whomever is helping find your home. Being aware of the compromises you are making when buying a house will help you make that quick confident decision which you most likely will need to make when you see the house that feels right to you. It will also be an important first step in making that house a home.