The 6 Questions to Ask When Budgeting for a New Home

There are some essential questions to ask yourself about your needs, desires, and budget when moving to a new home.

1. What will the monthly payments look like?

How much of your income will go toward rent or mortgage in the house you’re moving to? Talk to your broker or lender not just about monthly payments, but about what kind of down payment you can make to affect both the payment amounts and life of the loan. You’ll also want to weigh the difference between types of loans. FHA loans may require less of a down payment, but they usually require an extra mortgage insurance payment every month. Conventional loans may require more money down but without added insurance. Many real estate sites have payment calculators to get you started. Closing costs are another sometimes overlooked topic you’ll want to explore.

2. What will it cost to make a potential house your perfect home?

What are the real costs of making a fixer upper into the perfect home, from paint, to repairs, to improvements and finishes? Does the house you’re thinking of moving to have a fence to accommodate your kids and pets, and how much will it cost to have one? Will you really get around to installing a second bathroom? Estimate the cost of making a less-than-perfect but cheaper home “yours” vs. buying a more expensive house that already has what you want or need. Sometimes these may equal out.

3. Is moving to a new house contingent on the sale of your current home?

One of the decisions homebuyers make is whether to buy a new house before selling their current home or selling their current home before buying. There are risks and benefits to both approaches to moving. Homebuyers don’t want to be in possession of two mortgages on the one hand, nor be in the position of finding, buying, and moving to a new house in a compressed timeframe on the other hand. Making as many affordable improvements to your current home as you can, while getting your financing for a new home locked up, will give you more confidence and flexibility to make the best moving decision for you.

4. How much house do you need?

One of the main reasons people give for moving is “more space.” Think carefully about how much room you’ll really need based on children, expected children, the desire to accommodate visiting relatives and friends, your pets, and options like a possible work-out room or home office. Which one of these can you do without, and which is a must-have? Many homebuyers like the idea of a guest room, for example, but later realize they don’t use it as much as they thought. Others pass on a house with an extra room only to realize unexpected needs later. Ultimately most people want to move as infrequently as possible, so do what you can to prevent needing more space yet again.

5. Moving to the perfect home or the perfect neighborhood: what’s your preference?

Are you a homebody? For you, the perfect home may out-rank the perfect neighborhood. Others who thrive on walking, jogging, and the proximity of restaurants or attractions may care more about location—or are looking for communities with lots of kids and families. It’s best to think realistically about your preferences. Sometimes we may like the idea of certain features (like moving to a house with a swimming pool), factor them into our moving decisions, and then end up not taking advantage of them in the end.

6. What are the costs of moving to a new house?

Surprisingly, it’s easy for homebuyers to overlook the cost of actually moving their belongings from one place to another. Sometimes the expected cost savings of self-moving doesn’t end up justifying the hassle or cost of lost time and unexpected damage. That can be the case for hiring a moving company to handle the planning, packing, and transportation for you—especially for long distance or interstate moves. On the other hand, veterans of home buying and moving may be confident enough to do it on their own. Whatever you decide, you will need a vehicle to transport your things, whether that’s your own, a friend’s, a rental truck or van, or working with a moving company.

Moving always feels a bit like a plunge into the unknown. Using your imagination to picture the perfect home and what it will take to find it not only takes away some of the uncertainty, it also makes the process more exciting.

It’s important to think about move planning at least eight weeks out so when you are ready, call Suddath® for a free move estimate. We’ll provide lots of options and price points to consider.