Sizing Up Your Options: How to Determine What Size Home is Best
When looking for a home, prospective buyers often focus on the number of bedrooms and bathrooms, without really considering the actual size of the home. In addition, they may not realize that the way a home is designed can influence how spacious it feels, no matter how large or small it actually is.
Home size is not only important for the comfort of the occupants, it can have a great deal to do with how affordable the home will be to live in for years to come. Prospective buyers who are looking for the perfect home and unsure of how to choose the size they need may want to consider these questions to help them succeed.
What are the buyer's current and future daily space needs?
One of the most common reasons to shop for another home is changing family size or lifestyle, such as when a new child is expected, after a marriage, divorce, or when older couples find themselves with empty bedrooms after the last child leaves home. To make sure the home they ultimately purchase will feel comfortable for years to come, buyers should always plan ahead for any coming changes, if possible.
Are there special space or design requirements to consider?
The next thing to consider is whether there are any special needs that will affect the space or design of the future home. These might include:
- space requirements for indoor activities, such as entertaining or homeschooling
- space requirements for outdoor activities and hobbies, such as gardening or hobbies
- space requirements to run a home business or have specific rooms or areas, such as a library or workshop
- space requirements for pets
- special design needs for mobility issues, such as needing a one-level home to avoid staircases
What is the expected budget for both buying and living in the home?
The actual amount of money that can be comfortably budgeted to purchase can, and should, play a large part in the size selection process. This figure is also one that can vary widely from area to area, even within the same geographical area. Generally, homes that are newer or those located in a particularly popular area will cost more per square foot than an older or a less well-located one of equal or larger size.
In addition to purchase price per square foot, prospective buyers should also carefully consider the ongoing costs of living for any home they are interested in purchasing. These costs include the monthly principal and interest amounts of the mortgage, as well as:
- property taxes, assessments, and HOA fees
- insurance premiums, including homeowners, flood, PMI, and other necessary policies
- utilities and services, including heating, cooling, water, sewer, internet, phone, cable, and trash
- expected costs for cleaning and lawn care
- expected costs for renovations and repairs
- costs for daily transportation needs, such as commuting to work or school
Prospective buyers who do not require a one-level home can often enjoy more space at a lower price by choosing a multi-story home, split level, or one with a basement that could be used for additional living space. Homes with these more compact designs sometimes offer savings on some of the ongoing costs of home ownership, such as utilities, repairs, and upkeep.
For more information or specific questions about choosing the right home size, prospective buyers should talk candidly with their real estate professional. Their agent will be able to help them see the actual space potential in each home they view as well as help them understand the potential costs and benefits likely to be involved with each one.