There’s a lot to think about when you picture your perfect home. Defining your criteria for what you want helps you narrow your search to optimize the time you spend touring homes. It can also help you determine what you’re flexible about if your search results are sparse.
Price, Down Payment, and Monthly Payments
What you can afford is the biggest factor in your future home. It’s important to take a look at your finances and decide what you can spend on your down payment and what income you can rely on to pay your monthly mortgage. The larger down payment you pay at closing, the lower your monthly payments will be. Maybe you don’t have enough saved up for a larger down payment prior to when you want to buy your home, but make enough to afford a higher monthly payment, and some lenders now offer zero and low-down payment options. Those two things determine your purchase power and the highest price you can bid on a home.
Most people have an idea of the location in which they want to buy. This might be limited to a specific county or even specific cities. It’s important to keep your mind and options open when looking. While you may want a specific area, pricing ultimately decides where you can buy and you may want to, or need to, consider homes outside your initial preferred borders. Expanding the radius can offer more options, but you’ll also want to think about your workplace location and the commute. However, with many employers offering hybrid or remote work, for some, living near your employer is no longer as much of a consideration in where you choose to live as it was in the past. So, this can be another opportunity to expand your location radius for your new home.
Home Owners Association (HOA) fees generally apply to all condominium homes (condos), and plan unit developments (PUDs), also known as townhomes, and even some single-family homes. Understanding what these monthly fees cost and what they cover will play a part in choosing your home. HOA fees typically cover the maintenance and upkeep of the outside structure of attached condos or townhomes, and any amenities that may be part of the complex, such as a community pool or hot tub, park, or clubhouse. If a single-family home is in a gated community, it’s also likely to have an HOA fee that covers these community amenities. Depending on the complex, HOA fees might also include water, trash, and other utilities.
Number of Bedrooms and Bathrooms
The number of bedrooms you need will be determined by a number of things. Do you have children and how many? Or are you planning to have them in the future and want to be prepared? Would you want them to share a room or have their own? Do you have other family members that would be living with you? Do you want extra rooms for a home office, home gym, or some other purpose? The number of bathrooms you want depends on the number of people living in the home and if you want to share the bathroom or have your own. You may also consider an extra bathroom for guest use.
Some people prefer a home with an open floor plan where the kitchen, dining area, and living room appear to share the same space. With fewer walls, this can create the appearance of a larger, more spacious home. You may want a home with multiple floors, or only one for more accessibility. It may also matter to you where the laundry is located in the home, if it’s included.
Garage and Parking
Not all homes come with a private garage, and garage space varies for those that do. Garages can be attached or detached to the housing unit. They can include a multi-car garage or a one-car garage. Some condo complexes offer only a shared parking garage or assigned uncovered parking spots. Tandem parking is also common. Usually only single-family homes have enough space for a multi-car garage and a driveway. When considering your desired garage space, you’ll want to decide how you’ll use that space, whether you’ll be parking cars, or using it as storage. In addition to garage space, you might want to consider the guest parking availability for when you have visitors. Some neighborhoods limit or prohibit overnight parking on the street. This could be a factor of the on-site parking accommodations you may need for your home.
Lack of in-unit laundry can be a deal-breaker for some. In-unit laundry provides more convenience for those who have very busy schedules and want to do laundry on their own time, rather than abide by set hours if the condo complex has community laundry rooms.
Search for the home of your dreams using our Home Connections program. Through our program, you’ll be connected with a real estate agent that’ll assist in your home search, tours, and bidding process. They’ll work with your Orange County’s Credit Union mortgage loan consultant to ensure a seamless home-buying experience.