3 Signs You're About to Buy the Wrong Home

Buying a home is a major undertaking. You have to cover a mortgage, pay property taxes, and spend time and money to keep your living space in good shape.

As such, if you’re going to buy a home, it’s important to choose one that truly works for you. But if these signs apply, it may be that you’re about to make an offer on a home that isn’t the right fit at all.

1. You’re stretching your budget in a serious way

In December, the median existing (meaning already lived-in) U.S. home sold for $382,600, says the National Association of Realtors. You may be looking at a home that’s far more expensive, or you may be looking at a home that costs a lot less. But no matter how much you’re looking to spend on a home, if affording it is a stretch, then you’re doing yourself a disservice by buying it.

As a general rule, your housing costs should not eat up more than 30% of your paycheck. And that 30% shouldn’t just include the sum you pay your mortgage lender each month. Rather, it should also include expenses like property taxes, homeowners insurance, and HOA fees, if they apply to you.

If you let yourself go beyond that point, you’ll risk falling behind not just on housing expenses, but on your bills in general. So if you know the home you’re looking to buy is a financial stretch from the start, say no. It could spare you a world of ongoing stress.

2. You’re giving up a major component that money can’t address

You may want a home with a high-end kitchen. If you can’t find one that fits the bill off the bat, the good news is that in time and with the right amount of money, you can transform a dated kitchen into a luxury one with sleek appliances and elegant countertops.

More: Check out our picks for the best mortgage lenders

But there are certain components of a home that even money can’t fix. And those are things you shouldn’t compromise on.

Let’s say you’ve always wanted a large backyard. The size of your yard isn’t something you can change with money. Sure, you could make an existing yard nicer by putting in a patio or deck. But if your property sits on a small patch of land, you can’t buy your way into an acre. And if having an acre is really important to you, then you shouldn’t make an offer on a home whose property is significantly smaller.

3. It’s in a neighborhood that doesn’t offer the amenities you need

It’s a good thing to be flexible with the neighborhood you buy in — to some degree. Opting for an up-and-coming neighborhood over an established one could leave you paying less for a home. But one thing you shouldn’t do is settle for a neighborhood you know just won’t work for you.

If you have kids, for example, and there’s a neighborhood that’s known to have a poorly rated school district, you risk winding up miserable if you move there. And if you want to live somewhere walkable to shops, a neighborhood that solely consists of houses may not work for you.

If you buy a couch you don’t end up loving, after saving up for a while, you have the potential to replace it. But it’s not so easy to get out of a home purchase that ends up being wrong for you. So think carefully before making an offer on a home, and avoid any home that’s too expensive or doesn’t suit your needs in another really big way.

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