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Crushing on a house? How to tell if it's true love.

Are you tired of one-year flings? Ready to stop casually renting and start something more serious?  Maybe you’ve decided it’s time to settle down with a charming Craftsman or reliable Ranch. You’ve narrowed it down to one or two houses that give you butterflies. But how can you be sure it’s true love and not just nerves over buying your first house?  Here are five questions to ask yourself to help you find the one.

Does it meet all your needs (and most of your wants)?

Whether you plan to grow old in this house, or sell it in five years, you’re making a commitment and need to make sure you’re in it the for the long haul.  Make sure the house fits your requirements, as well as your lifestyle and most of your preferences. For instance, you might travel for work and need a place with minimal maintenance. Maybe you’re a light sleeper, and any nearby interstate would be an instant deal-breaker. If you’re shopping for a house as a couple, it’s especially important to discuss what each person will and won’t budge on. Having a list will help you rule out houses and hone in on the right one for you.

Will it work for future plans?

Are you planning to get a dog, start a family or launch a freelance business? All of the above? You’re looking for a house with a yard, spare bedroom and office space, right? You can’t know exactly how the next few years will go, but if you have set goals, keep those in mind as you’re looking at properties.

Do you like the neighborhood?

You probably started by cruising for love in your favorite neighborhoods. But if not, take a step back and assess whether the neighborhood feels like a good fit for you. Can you see yourself walking to the local coffee shop, running errands and chatting with the neighbors? Does it have the amenities you need to enjoy your time off – like a bustling restaurant district or plenty of green space? Do research online to learn more about the area, but also spend some time hanging out and talking to your potential future neighbors. For more tips for choosing a neighborhood, considering reading “Top 10 considerations when choosing your new neighborhood”.

What will the commute be like?

Maybe you’re willing to do anything for this house – even sit in rush hour traffic for an hour. Before you rush head over heels into a commute you hate, try driving the route to work. Be realistic about whether the distance, level of traffic and time spent in the car is worth it to you – as well as how much you could be paying on gas. You can also look at new public transit options that might be available to you and consider making use of those.

Can you (comfortably) afford it?

From price tag to upkeep, some houses are more high maintenance than others. You should be able to still love your life as much as you love your house. In addition to your monthly mortgage payment, take other expenses like higher utility bills, taxes and homeowner’s association fees into account. If the house has a huge yard, try to get a sense of what it will cost to maintain it. Looking at a place triple the size of your current apartment? Think about what furniture you may need to buy to furnish the rooms. Based on your estimated monthly cost, will you have enough left over to actually enjoy your time as a homeowner? Learn more about the costs of maintaining a home.

Even if it’s love at first sight, it’s important to make sure a house really lives up to your standards. If it doesn’t, it’s okay to walk away. There are plenty of houses in the real estate sea, and it’s worth waiting for your one and only. In the meantime, or if you’ve found the house for you, read “Smart steps for homebuyers” to get ready to buy. Next month, we’ll go over what to expect when you put an offer on a house.

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