When your "Forever Home" speaks to you, what will it say about your future together? How will you recognize your "Forever Home" when you see it? Finding a house or condominium to love forever, is much like searching out a person to love forever:
You can't force it. You won't know if it's the first or the fiftieth property you see.
It may happen with a rush of familiarity as you cross the threshold - love at first showing - or it may be a growing realization as you explore every corner after several visits inspecting the home with family and professionals like a home inspector, contractor, or interior designer.
Falling in love or being in love with the neighborhood may be your top priority, so then you'll search out the property which requires the least number of compromises for long-term living.
Whether "home" jumps out at you, or the lasting connection comes on more slowly, you'll be successful at recognizing this new headquarters for your life - and maybe your work - if you invest time deciding exactly what you mean by "Forever Home." Experienced real estate professionals are a great resource here as their stories of faulty first impressions and amazing connections with real estate will transform you into an insightful "forever" buyer. Ask questions and relate the answers to your specific situation and long-term goals.
How Do You Define "My Forever Home"?
Consider the following 3 powerful Buying Forever Questions to discover your definition of a long-term residence, on any time line that matters to you.
1. What is it about the house or condominium that will make you, and those you love, want to stay forever or at least for a very long time?
Set priorities for your search:
- Which location is preferred and why? Proximity to schools and work are popular criteria, but with home schooling and home-based businesses on the rise, what else do you want to be close to? What will matter once the children move out? Rate conveniences including what's within walking distance, what's in the neighborhood, what's a short drive away... good, bad, and indifferent. Buy the best location you can afford and compromise on features that can be changed or are less important to you.
- Which neighborhood do you dream of belonging to? If you're in for the long haul, go for the enclave at the top of your list or pretty close to it. You can consider the growing edge of this area, that's the streets that are now outside that neighborhood but that will naturally be engulfed as it grows. Buy the best neighborhood you can afford when you're in for the long haul to reap the greatest amount of appreciated value, and to assure neighborhood sustainability and growth.
- What property orientation to sunrise and sunset is important in your life? Are solar energy possibilities important to you or might they be in the future?
- What size and style of structure do you lust after? Broaden you search in this category by including houses that can be renovated or enlarged to achieve your ideal size and layout.
2. What is it about the home that will provide flexibility as your life, work, family size, goals…and the neighborhood change over time?
Imagine a series of outcomes for your future:
- Are there options with layout and room size which will allow some shuffling if more children or live-in relatives arrive, or if children leave home and relatives go solo?
- Is the decor right on trend so it will date quickly, or does long-lasting high-quality, classic-design predominate?
- Telecommuting, or working from home, and home-based business are both on the rise, so consider how you'd adapt your home if this was an option or a necessity.
- What mobility barriers are there and could home modifications cost-effectively overcome them if necessary? This may or may not be in your future, but if challenges arise for any family member would this force a move? For instance, is there room to ramp entrance stairs or add a lifting device? Sunken living rooms (one or two steps down) can be an expensive barrier to overcome. Check large closets and alcoves to see if an elevator could be added if needed.
3. Can the home become a financial partner in your future if the need for more income arises?
Explore a range of alternatives:
- Is renting out part of the home or taking in a boarder a practical option for initially affording the house or condominium? Buying the best location you can afford may include boosting your income this way until the mortgage is paid down to manageable levels.
- Consider the possibility that you may want adult children, relatives, or care givers to share your home at some point. You may also decide on spending months at a time traveling or living elsewhere. Would the layout allow a separate suite for them - or you - to be easily constructed in the home?
- Is the home relatively-low maintenance or could it be? Consider long-term maintenance costs for the condominium facility (You pay your share of new roofs, garage repairs, and other big costs after all). Rising taxes and monthly condominium fees should also factor into long-term affordability calculations.
- Is this an energy-efficient home or could it be, so that expenses remain on budget as energy costs climb?
- Does the location and type of building typically qualify for home equity conversion options like reverse mortgages? If "forever" is the plan, at some point you will want to start "spending the equity" since you can't take it with you.
Compare this "Forever Home" list with your current home-buying criteria. Too often buyers, who say they want to buy "Our Forever Home," focus on short-term features like stainless steel appliances, open concept living areas, and granite counter tops, not on long-term benefits like those in the "Forever Home" list above. Features go out of style and will date a home and bring value and saleability down. Your "Forever Home" should be packed with benefits and value for today and into the future.
When your "Forever Home" speaks to you will you be receptive to what it says about your future together?