Ensuring that you buy the right house to suit your family’s needs now and in the future is important. Purchasing a house is a huge financial investment and choosing the wrong one could leave you struggling financially for years to come.

If you are searching for a house to buy, use the following guide to create a checklist to provide to your real estate agent to make narrowing the selection a bit easier.

Determine What You Can Afford to Spend on a House

The first thing you need to do is consider how much money you can afford to spend each month on a home. Take into account the true cost of owning a home—you need to be able to pay for the utilities for the home, the homeowners insurance payment, as well as the mortgage for the house.

Determining how much you can afford to spend on all of these items will reduce the chances of you getting in over your head and drowning in debt from month to month.

Apply for Prequalification for a Home Loan

When you are searching for a house, you want to be sure that you know what the actual budget for the home is. This is to ensure that if you do fall into financial distress along the way, you can still afford to make your mortgage payments each month.

There are many people who determine how much they can afford to pay for a home but are able to get a loan for far less than they can afford.

You can go to a lender and apply for a prequalification loan. This type of loan lets you know if you are approved for a loan, how much you can spend on a house, and how much your interest fees will be for the loan. This allows you to know exactly how much you can expect to pay for the house each month and what your budget is for the house so that you don’t look for houses that are over the amount that you are approved for.

Being preapproved for a loan can also make it easier to buy a home; homeowners will often choose to take an offer from someone who has already been approved for the loan rather than someone who has not.

Determine How Much Space You Need

Talk with your spouse about how much space you feel that you need in a home to live comfortably. You want to be sure to consider the number of bedrooms and the living area within the house. If you plan to expand your family in the future, you may want to choose a home that is slightly larger than your current needs so that you can accommodate the new members of your family when they arrive.

Consider Where You Want to Live

The location of the home that you buy is very important to take into consideration. You want to be sure that it’s not located too far from your work or you could end up spending a majority of your day commuting to and from work.

This will decrease the amount of time that you get to spend with your family and the amount of time that you are able to unwind after a long day at work. You want to be sure that the house is centrally located to shops and activities that your family frequents, as well.

Choosing a home that is located in an area that is not prone to a lot of crime is important. When choosing where you want to live, it’s important to take the crime rate for the area into consideration.

You want to be sure that your family moves into a home that is located in a safe area. Your kids should be able to play outside in the yard without you worrying that someone could kidnap them.

Consider the School System in the Area

You want to be sure that the school system that the home is located in is of good quality. Do some research online to see if there are any stories or reviews of violence or hate happening with the school system where a home you are considering is located.

You want to be sure that your children are provided with the best educational opportunities available and are able to go to school with people who are open minded and make them feel safe and comfortable at all times.

Consider the Recent Changes to the Tax Standards

If you plan to purchase a home that costs millions of dollars, it’s important to take the new tax bill standards into account before purchasing a home.

The new tax standards state that the amount of interest that is deductible each year has been lowered from $1 million dollars to $750,000. You need to consider if the home that you are thinking about buying is worth the investment if you cannot deduct all of the interest that you are paying into it each year.

While this does not affect people, who are purchasing smaller homes, it can make a huge impact for people who are buying luxury mansions and investing a lot of money in their estates.

Consider the HOA Restrictions

When you start looking at a home, you need to let the real estate agent know if you want to live in a neighborhood that has a Homeowners Association or not. An HOA sets standards for what is acceptable and not acceptable within the neighborhood. They can limit how you use your yard, what changes you can make to your home, and even how many cars you have in your driveway.

If you are considering a home located in a neighborhood with an HOA, it’s important to read the bylaws of the HOA thoroughly before agreeing to buy the house. This will ensure that you will be able to adhere to the guidelines and do not have to worry about getting agitated with the HOA later on down the road if they tell you that you cannot use your home the way that you want to use it.

Consider the Maintenance Costs for the Home

There are always maintenance costs associated with home ownership, but some homes require more upkeep than others. Older homes will cost more to maintain than newer houses because there will be more elements that may need to be updated or replaced throughout the time when you live in the home.

Homes that are newer and have more modern features can also be expensive to maintain because many issues arise that need to be addressed by professionals. You cannot simply fix issues that arise with computer operated systems within your home, unfortunately. Each visit by a technician can cost a lot of money and is often not reimbursable.

Consider the Renovations for the Home

When you purchase a home, there are many times when there are factors within the home that you may not be overly happy with. You need to consider how much it will cost to address these issues and if the house will be worth buying once you consider how much time, money, and effort will need to be put into making the house exactly the way that you want it to be.

There are many people who want to move into a home that has very little that needs to be changed in it and some that want to move into a home and change every aspect of it so that it suits their family perfectly. Consider how much work you are willing to put into a home before you buy it.

A real estate agent will more than likely have numerous homes to show you – it’s best to take your time to walk around each home and take pictures of the elements within each home that you like and those that you do not like. The real estate agent can then use those pictures to narrow down other options that are available to help you find the perfect house to suit your needs.

Once you have found the perfect house, your real estate agent will be able to negotiate with the seller’s real estate agent to find a purchase price that is ideal for both of you. You then have to fill out paperwork and within a short amount of time you will be able to start moving your belongings into your new house.

It’s important to realize that once you agree to buy a home and sign the paperwork, you cannot back out of it. Think long and hard to make sure that you invest in a house that you are going to be able to love for years to come.