Dear Dr. Dave and Dr. Dee,
I live in an apartment, have been saving my money for a down payment on a home, and would like to start looking around. What do you think is the most important thing to look for in a home? For example, is a garage important, how many bedrooms, how big a kitchen, etc. Or, should I rent?
Dear Homeward bound,
Many real estate agents will tell you the top 3 things to look for in a home is: Location, Location, Location.
Location includes the immediate neighborhood and surrounding community. Young couples often look for good schools for their children. Other people want to be close to where they work, shopping, public transportation, sports arenas, arts and culture. Some folks want a view of the mountains, ocean, or valley from their home.
The garage, number of bedrooms, kitchen size, are all very much up to you and your needs and price range.
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development has a brochure with 100 questions and answers about buying a new home from determining buying readiness to closing the deal. They offer these pros and cons for renting versus owning a home (2009):
Pros: Generally free of most maintenance responsibilities.
Cons: Lose the chance to build equity, cannot take advantage of tax benefits, and not protected against rent increases. Also, you may not be free to decorate without permission.
Pros: Building equity, and that's an investment. Owning a home also qualifies you for tax breaks (on the cons below).
Cons: New financial responsibilities, i.e. insurance, real estate taxes, and upkeep. But given the freedom, stability, and security of owning your own home, they are worth it (USHUD, 2009).
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