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Does that prospective new home check all your boxes?

It’s the American dream, right? Your thoughts are filled with day dreams about your perfect home, maybe even with the white picket fence? But before you sign the dotted line for your dream home, it’s important that you remain a diligent buyer. Here are five questions to ponder when considering a prospective new home.

1. Location

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You’ve heard the old adage about location, location, location – well it turns out they’re probably right. Your home is the center of your life, so you want to make sure it’s close to the things your family enjoys. Does your family enjoy walking downtown to get ice cream? How far are you from your children’s school or the beach? Where’s the closest dog park?

Take a walk around your neighborhood to determine which conveniences are close by. You can even map it out online to determine the average commute for your family. While a few extra minutes in the car might not seem like a significant issue now, it might be far less enjoyable when you factor in everyday chaos and rush hour.

2. Floor plan

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You’ve heard a lot of buzz about open floor plans for a reason. In the past few years, home buyers have increasingly begun to notice the importance of floor plans when deciding on a new home. Not only does a floor plan set the tone for your home, but changing a floor plan after moving is often a huge project.

A floor plan can determine every part of your home, from your furniture layout to your electrical wiring. Before deciding on a home, consider your ideal floor plan. Jot down whether you prefer a space that can fluctuate between a playroom or a child’s bedroom. Do you prefer being able to see into the family room from the kitchen? Do you picture a dining room that flows seamlessly into your kitchen? Floor plans are more than a convenience, they are essential when deciding on the home of your dreams.

3. Improvements

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Fixer uppers might look like a “fun project” on TV, but in reality they often prove to be messy, expensive, and a huge hassle for new homeowners. The reality is that unless you are having your home custom built, you are likely going to want to make some changes to your home. Rather than making a laundry list of dream features, plan ahead with a precise list of must-have renovations.

Whether you prefer a gourmet kitchen, romantic master bedroom, or spa-like bathroom, decide which upgrades you value most. Once you have your list of must-have features, you will be better prepared to decide how best to allocate your budget. You are then free to bump less important or more expensive projects to the future.

4. Size

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A cozy house might sound wonderful in an online listing, but will it really fit your family comfortably? Many homeowners are surprised to find once they move in that rooms they once thought were moderate size are far too small to fit their furniture and other belongings. Unsurprisingly, rooms look far larger with proper staging or no furniture at all.

Bring a tape measure and go into your potential home prepared to get real about sizes. Consider which pieces of furniture you plan to take with you into your new home, and measure how well your furniture will fit into your new space. While you might be willing to part with a side table, you’re less likely to be excited about having to purchase a new couch or bedroom set.

5. Style

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A good-looking home isn’t just memorable – it’s everything. Curb appeal tells the story of your prospective home and your personal style. Your home’s exterior – including the front yard, driveway, and sidewalk – should serve as a preview of what people can expect in your home. What is the exterior of your potential home telling you?

Does it need a new paint job? A few replacement shutters? While you will be able to make cosmetic repairs, you want to make sure you love the overall style of your home as it will be far more difficult to change. This potential house will potentially become the place where you build your family, make sure you’ll be proud to call it home.