For most people, deciding which home to buy is an emotional process.  This is the place where you’re going to live, raise your kids, and become a part of the community.  That being said, it can be easy to get swept away with a place without really knowing anything about it.  This is potentially the largest purchase you will ever make, so if you decide to move forward, it’s important to not play down the important items you might wish you’d taken the time to investigate.  You don’t want to find yourself floundering six months down the road with an investment nightmare.

First thing’s first: set your priorities.  Separate your needs from your wants, and pay close attention to the difference in the two.  Most home buyers will have to compromise on something, but it shouldn’t be something from your list of things that you must have.  Having an idea of what your needs are will help you streamline the home buying process simply because you won’t be looking at houses that don’t fit your unique situation

One of the most crucial priorities that you should be considering is your new home’s location.  You hear it over and over in the real estate biz: location, location, location.  Choosing your location is critical.  It is the one thing that cannot be changed once you own the home, so it’s important to get this one right.  You’ll need to consider the potential home’s proximity to your work, that the neighborhood meets your expectations, how the home is situated on the lot, what the view is, who owns the lots surrounding you, how those lots are zoned, and more.  Once that home is bought and paid for, you will have permanently committed to all of these things.

Once you get to the stage where you’re able to go look at homes, before you step inside, take a good look at what’s outside.  Is the exterior of the home in good condition?  Does the yard need to be levelled? Is the concrete driveway sliding down the hillside?  Improving the exterior can be costly and is sometimes a factor that gets glossed over.  It’s worth your time to take into account these potential costs.

As you’re moving through the home and making your inspection, it’s important to not get hooked on the decorating.  Look past the furniture, fixtures, wall colors, and anything else that is merely cosmetic.  These aesthetics may not be to your taste and really, that doesn’t matter.  What does matter is that the home you are looking at buying has good bones and is structurally sound, has good flow, and is the right space for you and your family.

Lastly, if the home that you are interested in fails in any of these categories, be prepared to walk away.  This may be easier said than done as you might have already become attached to the home you are looking at purchasing.  However, if the home is in an impractical location or will cost you an exorbitant amount of money in repairs, then you’re simply not getting a good value for your purchase and simultaneously setting yourself up for heartbreak and pain down the road—most of it in your wallet.

Amanda has lived in Southeast Alaska for most of her adult life and recently moved back to Juneau for the third time. She is a graduate of Albertson College of Idaho with a degree in Creative Writing. To reach Amanda, please feel free to email her at