Statistics say that the average person in the US moves over 11 times in their lifetime. That's a lot of moving, a lot of expense and stress. Want to beat those odds? Then it's time to find a place you can officially put down roots.
Numerous studies have shown that people are happier when they move less, so what should you look for in order to make your new home your forever home? We've spoken to real estate experts to identify the key areas you should be looking at. Their tips may surprise you, because often, they're not about the house itself.
- Check out our housing market forecast for up-to-date information on home prices
1. It's (almost) all about location
This is the single most important thing to consider when choosing your forever home – and it's not even about the home itself? The simple truth is: if your don't like the neighborhood, or the neighborhood doesn't suit your needs, you will be itching to move in no time. So, do thorough research on everything from what outdoor spaces are available to schools, walkability, and even flood safety. Ian Wright, founder of Bequests (opens in new tab), says: 'This is very crucial and should come up high on your priority list as it will affect your current and your future plans. Having everything from the gym to the supermarket and even public transport within walking distance is a great way to ensure that you love the area you are in.
Ian emphasizes that it's important to be aware of your potential future needs as well as current ones: 'if you are planning to start a family in the future, you will need to consider the school areas for your children as well as making sure that there are amenities such as parks and walking trails for you, your family and your pets to enjoy.'
2. Look at homes with future potential
Many people assume that a 'forever home' is a home that is completely perfect. This isn't true – a home is more likely to become your forever home if 'the property you buy is one that will grow with you and will be a space suitable for all your life experiences', according to Ian. That includes starting a family or changing your lifestyle to permanent home working. Look for a home that has the potential for remodeling and personalization. Ask the realtor whether the home can be extended, or if your loft conversion ideas would work in this particular home.
Any such changes will cost you, and you won't necessarily recoup the cost if and when you sell. Only take on a renovation or remodeling project if it's important to you.
3. Focus on the condition of expensive hardware – and forget about paint and furnishings
Forget about chipping paint or old-fashioned kitchen cabinets. What you really need to focus on when looking for your forever home is the expensive, hard-to-replace 'hardware' of your home. Real estate experts at Zillow (opens in new tab) recommend checking out the home's roof, furnace or HVAC system, plumbing, insulation, and any damage from flooding or mold. These are the things that will give you the costliest trouble if they're not in good condition.
On the other hand, the condition of paintwork, furnishings, and even landscaping are not at all crucial when buying your forever home. All these cosmetic issues are easy and cheap to fix, so 'don’t let minor issues keep you from buying a house you would otherwise love', Zillow says.
Many people are put off by a yard that looks like it needs are lot of work, but you'll be amazed how much can be done with a weekend's worth of work, or even hiring a landscaper once or twice.