Evaluate what’s important to you.
As you begin the process of looking for a home that suits you and your family, it’s important to evaluate which home features are important to you, which features you are willing to pay extra for, and which features you could do without. If a large, private backyard is extremely important to you, for example, and you are willing to pay the extra money for it, make the backyard one of the primary features you look for in a home, since this is a factor that will drive the home price up. If, meanwhile, you aren’t as attached to the home’s location, don’t let location be the thing you pay for in your new home. Discuss your future home with your family and choose two or three features that are most important to you—so you can be sure you’re putting your money where your heart is in your next home.
Don’t pay for features you won’t use.
On a related note, it’s important to also evaluate which features in your future home you’ll truly use, and which ones are merely “expensive conveniences.” If you think it would be nice to live near public transit so that you can easily commute into the city, for example, yet you and your family do not frequently travel into the city, then it may be a better use of your money to choose a home that’s not so close to public transit and to simply pay for a cab on those few occasions when you do want to head into the city. Or, if you would like a home with more space for hosting parties, consider whether it would be a better use of your money to purchase a smaller home and then to rent a party space on those few occasions when you do host a party. Consider your lifestyle as it stands to determine what you truly do need to be paying for in your next home.
Take out a smaller mortgage than you qualify for.
Some soon-to-be-homeowners find themselves surprised by the size of the loan they qualify for and then take out that large loan in order to get more home than they were originally anticipating. Keep in mind, however, that qualifying for a large loan and being able to afford one are two very different things. Taking out a smaller mortgage than you qualify for is a smart move because 1) you’ll lower your risk of missing a payment, 2) you’re more likely to come out on top in the event of a financial emergency, and 3) you’ll be able to afford other costs, such as furnishing your home or paying for a child’s education.