Buying a home is a big decision, and it’s also a very significant challenge. Recently, homes have been hard to find, with inventory far lower than demand. However, that doesn’t mean you should purchase the first home you see.
Instead, make sure you do some research and schedule inspections to ensure that the home you choose is safe for both your family and the environment. Here are some key factors to consider and tips for finding your perfect home.
How Much Space Do You Need?
Most people love the idea of a large home, but buying one may not be the best option. Not only do you end up caring for, cleaning, and repairing much more space, but it’s much more expensive as well. A large home comes with a larger mortgage, higher property taxes, and bigger utility bills.
Even more importantly, a large home can be hard on the environment. Your carbon footprint is much more significant when you’re maintaining a bigger space. You use more resources, the land area impacted by the home is more substantial, and water runoff and energy use is higher.
While you might love the idea of a grand home with a sweeping entrance and tons of bedrooms, think carefully about the space you truly need. Is your family growing? Then you might need a house you can grow into. But if not, make sure you choose a home that’s best for both your wallet and the environment.
Choose a Safe Neighborhood
Finding a great affordable home is the ultimate goal of a house hunt. However, if the property is in an unsafe neighborhood, you won’t be safe as you move through your daily life. Make sure you research the crime rate in your area and visit the community both during the day and at night. If you don’t feel comfortable, don’t purchase the home.
It’s not just crime that can be a threat to your family, either. What is the traffic like? Are there major thoroughfares through the area? If so, your children could be at risk as they play outside. You don’t want to be the victim of a traffic accident by a careless driver.
Signs of a safe neighborhood are as much gut feeling as science. Find out if crime is concentrated in the area, check crime mapping services, and review the National Sex Offenders Public Website to see if anyone dangerous lives in the neighborhood. Talk to neighbors and pay attention to whether homes in the area take a long time to sell — it’s a sign no one wants to move there. Most of all, notice how you feel in the area. Your instincts are usually right.
Schedule a Variety of Inspections
When bidding for a home, it’s tempting to waive inspections to make your offer more attractive. Unfortunately, this can result in you buying a home that’s unsafe for both your family and the environment.
A house is a big financial commitment, and if you buy one and discover a significant problem, it can become a financial nightmare. A general home inspection will give you information about the HVAC system, roof, electrical and plumbing systems, windows and doors, and structural components. You’ll receive a written report of the findings.
Many of the issues uncovered in an inspection, such as problems with a drain, can be fixed – but only if you know about them. You can work repairs into a price reduction or have the homeowner take care of them.
Other vital inspections include reviews of radon levels, lead-based paint, asbestos, and mold. These are not included with a general inspection, and the fees are often nominal. While no home is perfect, having all the information you need is key to determining how to make the home safe for you and the planet. Scheduling regular inspections like these every year can also help increase the longevity of your house’s systems, like the HVAC, which can be particularly finicky.
You’ve bought your home — congratulations! But there’s one more step you can take to be safer, and that’s installing security systems. Video doorbells are common and affordable, and they can help you see what happens on your porch throughout the day.
You can also choose whole-home security systems from a security expert. Many of these have a monthly fee, but they will alert the police if there is a breach and help you feel more secure both when you’re at home and when you’re away.
Finally, make sure you have high-quality doors and windows with sturdy locks. Get to know your neighbors so you can watch out for each other. You should also follow standard security advice such as trimming back bushes from your home and having motion-activated lights.
A Great Home is Safe for You and the Planet
Finding a property that is safe and environmentally sustainable is an extra challenge, but it’s well worth it in the end. You’ll save money, time, and hassle — and you’ll feel great about lowering your impact on the environment.
Having a home that’s the right size, in a great area, and thoroughly inspected is a great start. From there, you can install security and get to know your neighborhood. You’ll have a happy, healthy, enjoyable experience in your new home!
Guest Author Bio
Jori Hamilton is a writer and journalist from the Pacific Northwest who covers social justice issues, healthcare, and politics. You can follow her work on twitter @HamiltonJori, and through her portfolio at Writer Jori Hamilton.