Are you in the market for a new home? If so, congratulations! Buying a new home is a major milestone and takes lots of well-thought out planning, financing, and preparation from moving out of your current residence to moving in to a new one.

After research online, working with a realtor, and viewing homes in person, you may start to wonder how you'll know if a home is the right one for you. Waiting for that "ah ha!" moment may not come as obviously as you may have pictured, so you'll need to rely on some other factors to be confident the home in question is "the one."


If the four items below fall in line, you can feel assured that the home you're thinking about is the one for you. While nothing will be 100% perfect, if you get most of the way there with each piece, home sweet home is right around the corner.

You Picture Yourself Living There

When you first saw the exterior and then walked inside the home, could you see yourself and your family calling the place home? Could you envision family dinners in the kitchen and tucking your kids into bed at night? What about BBQs in the backyard and hanging family photos on the walls? If you get that gut feeling, it means something.

Realtor recommends asking yourself, "Is the house the right size for your needs, and does it have the right combination of bedrooms, bathrooms and other living areas? If the house has two stories, are you comfortable with the idea of walking up and down stairs every day? Is the design and architecture of the house too modern or too traditional to match your preferences in furniture and home furnishings?" Be sure all aspects make the grade so you'll be happy with the home as a whole.

As per Sound Money Matters, "Would you feel proud having people over to this home? Can you imagine yourself coming home to the house and feeling happy? Can you see how you'd arrange your furniture? Then it's your house."

If you've looked at a number of homes and this one keeps coming back as your favorite or you find yourself using this home as the standard the others must match, then this home is a standout. Snap it up before someone else has the chance to ring the bell.

It's In Your Price Range

Of course, no matter how much you may fall in love with a particular home, if you cannot afford it, then there's no sense in pining over it. Plus, there's more to cost than the price of the home itself. As Realtor notes, "Are you comfortable with the monthly payments? Is the down payment within your means? Will you have enough cash to pay transaction costs and moving expenses? If the house needs major repairs, remodeling or redecorating, can you save the necessary funds within a reasonable time period?"

If you can answer "yes" to all of these questions, then you're on your way. Pre-plan as to not get your hopes up after finding a home you adore when it's clearly out of your price range. Work with your realtor to only look at homes you can actually afford.

Additionally, consider your status in life. HomeFinder advises, "There's nothing wrong with settling for a more modest dwelling that satisfies your immediate needs, before taking the plunge and spending more for your permanent dream home. The average home buyer stays in his or her home for a little more than six years, so allow yourself a chance for transition when the time is right."

A perfect home may be the one that's perfect for now. Another home may be in the cards a little further down the road.

It's In Good Condition

Unless you paid a lot less for a home than you'd planned to and set aside funds for renovations, your best bet is to choose a house that's up to par as is. Sure, you may want to make some changes to suit your personal taste, but if the place is falling apart and needs major work, you may have a real headache on your hands that can take months, if not years to cure.

As per HomeFinder, "First time homebuyers tend to underestimate the time and money needed for large remodeling projects. Adding a new bathroom, den or even sleek lighting fixtures not only costs a lot of money but can take you a while to complete. If you don't have time to update an older home, look for new construction springing up around the city and suburbs."

And Realtor suggests considering, "Does the house need a new roof? Extensive upgrading of the electrical wiring? New plumbing? Is the home disaster-ready? Will you be able to meet the financial challenges and live with the mess and inconvenience while the home is being brought up to your expectations?"

If you find a home that seems to be a great value, but then you need to put in tons of work, the deal may not be worth the future money you'll need to spend and the time the updates will take. Be sure to consider these factors before making a move.

Location/Neighborhood is Right

You want to be happy with your home, but you won't be totally pleased if it's located someplace that's not appealing to you. Bob Vila asks, "Is the house close to the places that are most important to you? Scout out the nearest grocery store, gas station, school, and place of worship — not to mention learning how far the house is from your workplace."

HomeFinder reminds you to choose a home that reflects your needs and personality. "Your lifestyle and how your prospective home fits into it, should be the main consideration in your decision to buy a home. Many couples with young children now choose their home according to which school district it's located in to ensure a good education for their kids."

Additionally, your neighbors will make a difference in how you feel in your new town. "A surprising study by Harvard political scientist Robert Putnam found that the more you have in common with your neighbors, the more likely everyone is to feel a connection to the community," as per Bob Vila.

As much as you love your new home, you will be stepping outside every now and then after all!

Are you ready to make your move? Now you'll know whether or not the home you're thinking of buying is right for you. It's time to open the door to your future!

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Home garden and porch

As anyone who has ever sold a house will tell you, you must prioritize curb appeal. Before a potential buyer even considers looking inside your house, they notice the outside first. Does it attract the right kind of attention? Does it take away from the feel you're going for? If you plan to sell sometime soon, you must think about these things. Here are some landscaping options to increase your home's curb appeal, so you can get the best price on your home.

Extensive Plants and Greenery

A barren front yard won't get you the price you want on your home. So, invest in at least a little bit of greenery to keep the surrounding area from looking too dead. Shrubs and bushes tie the house to the lawn that precedes it, and flower beds bring a pop of color to an otherwise drab structure. You can also strategically plant some trees to improve the overall feel of your home's exterior.

Lawn Care

As we mentioned, your lawn is one of the most prominent features of your home's exterior. A patchy, dried-up lawn will quickly drive your home's price way down. Some of the best landscaping options for your home's curb appeal involve improving your lawn for the next inhabitant. Overall fertilization, ground aeration, underbrush removal, proper mowing—all of these lawn care tasks contribute to a greener and more lively area that invites people to see your house, rather than stay away from it.

Paved Pathways

There's nothing like a broken and disheveled pathway to make someone think twice about buying a property. Just as you want the entryway in your house to be welcoming, so too should the pathway leading up to the house be inviting. The pathway from the street to your front door provides plenty of real estate to get creative with. You don't have to settle for a boring concrete pathway. Consider something more eye catching, like a cobblestone path or intermittent brick patterns, as a way to better welcome potential buyers.

Usable Outdoor Furniture

Landscaping doesn't just involve the ground you walk on; also included are the items you use as extras to the overall look. Outdoor furniture is one such extra that you don't necessarily need but can look quite attractive if done correctly. Staging is important with outdoor furniture. Old, broken-down pieces will only look like more work to the potential buyer. A few comfortable chairs, a bench, or a table with an umbrella really go a long way to improving your outdoor aesthetics.

A good tip for deciding on curb appeal items is to decide what you personally would want to see as a part of a welcoming home's exterior. You don't need to go overboard, but a little bit of forethought could net you quite a lot of extra cash in the sale.

Unfortunately, giving back can sometimes go haywire. If you're ready to make a donation, first consider common mistakes made when giving back.

Many people strive to support their community by donating their time or their money. When you find a meaningful cause, you might be quick to cut a donation check. Though it's admirable to be quick to act charitably, you should be wary of several common mistakes made when giving to charity. Being mindful of these mistakes and learning tips for making informed charitable choices can help you make the most out of your generous check.

Acting Quickly Out of Emotion

Mission statements are meant to be compelling. If you're an emotionally driven individual, it's natural to pull out your wallet at the sight of a sad puppy on TV or when informed about food insecurity over the phone. Unfortunately, not all charities are as effective or official as they may seem.

Take your passion for helping others one step further by making sure your chosen charity is legit. Speaking with a representative, reviewing their website and social media accounts, and looking at testaments online can give you a better idea of whether the organization is worth your donation.

Forgetting to Keep Record of the Donation

Don't forget that you can reap some financial perks from giving back! With the proper documentation of your donation, you can acquire a better tax deductible.

If you donate more than $12,400 as a single filer or $24,800 as one of two joint filers, you're eligible to deduct that amount from your taxes. So, when a charity asks if you'd like a receipt of donation, always answer yes.

Donating Unusable Materials

Most charities can utilize a monetary donation—it's the physical donations that usually cause some issues. Providing a local nonprofit with irrelevant materials or gifting them with unusable products are surprisingly common mistakes made when giving to charity.

Always check your intended charity's website for a list of things they do and do not accept. The majority of places will provide a guideline to donating or offer contact information to clarify any questions.

Strictly Giving at Year's End

As more and more people get into the holiday spirit at the end of the year, nonprofit organizations see an influx of donations. While it's great to spread holiday cheer via a monetary donation, it's important to keep that spirit going year-round.

With regular donations, charities can more effectively allocate their annual budget. Setting up an automatic monthly donation with the charity of your choosing can maximize your impact. You can account for a monthly donation by foregoing a costly coffee every once in a while.

Knowing how much you should spend on home maintenance each year is hard to figure out and may be preventing you from buying your first home. The types of costs you'll incur depend on the house you buy and its location. The one certainty is that you should start saving now. Read on to figure out how much to start setting aside based on the home you own.

The Age of Your House

Consider several factors when budgeting for home repairs. If you've purchased a new home, your house likely won't require as much maintenance for a few years. Homes built 20 or more years ago are likely to require more maintenance, including replacing and keeping your windows clean. Further, depending on your home's location, weather can cause additional strain over time, so you may need to budget for more repairs.

The One-Percent Rule

An easy way to budget for home repairs is to follow the one-percent rule. Set aside one percent of your home's purchase price each year to cover maintenance costs. For instance, if you paid $200,000 for your home, you would set aside $2,000 each year. This plan is not foolproof. If you bought your home for a good deal during a buyer's market, your home could require more repairs than you've budgeted for.

The Square-Foot Rule

Easy to calculate, you can also budget for home maintenance by saving one dollar for every square foot of your home. This pricing method is more consistent than pricing it by how much you paid because the rate relies on the objective size of your home. Unfortunately, it does not consider inflation for the area where you live, so make sure you also budget for increased taxes and labor costs if you live in or near a city.

The Mix and Match Method

Since there is no infallible rule for how much you should spend on home maintenance, you can combine both methods to get an idea for a budget. Average your results from the square-foot rule and the one-percent rule to arrive at a budget that works for you. You should also increase your savings by 10 percent for each risk factor that affects your home, such as weather and age.

Holding on to savings is easier in theory than practice. Once you know how much you should spend on home maintenance, you'll know what to aim for and be more prepared for an emergency. If you are having trouble securing funds for home repairs, consider taking out a home equity loan, borrowing money from friends or family, or applying for funds through a home repair program through your local government for low-income individuals.