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This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Bank of America.

Let’s face it, life is filled with challenges and a seemingly endless amount of decisions. From the small: where should I get lunch today, to the fun: where should we take our annual family vacation, to the frustrating: how can I get my kids to pick up their clothes, to the confusing: which of these 278 shades of blue paint should I choose for the living room.

While these are all important to us in some way on a daily basis, I think most of us can agree that perhaps the most important decision most of us will ever make would be whether to buy a home and where. Your home is your foundation that makes everything else go.  It’s the rock, literally, beneath your feet. It’s your refuge, it’s the place where you grow and nurture your family, and it’s a place that forms the basis of your financial life. In fact, Bank of America’s Homebuyer Insights Report (HBIR)  findings around family dynamics and homebuying found that people really think buying a home is important. In this report, a whopping 79% of millennials think homeownership has a financial impact on their long-term picture. That’s a ton.

Furthermore, even in today’s highly complex world, a full 45% of prospective first-time buyers are now saving for a new home. It’s close to the top of their lists. Sure, there are a number of priorities in life, but for so many, buying a home is a tough one to beat.

Ok, so we know people like to feel the security and warmth of owning a home. That was a no-brainer for me, no doubt about it. Vera and I actually bought our home a year before we even got married! It was a two-family townhouse in Queens, NY that we rented out to make some extra money for our wedding! Once we got married, we moved into the top unit and continued to rent out the bottom unit. It was a fantastic investment, a great start, and a truly perfect stepping stone for buying our current house on Long Island.

When we started to have kids, we sat down and sorted everything out. It was a long and arduous task, deciding if and when we should move. There were so many factors involved, it was really a head-spinning exercise. To help us make the right decision, we created a list of pro’s and con’s to vet. This really helped us clarify everything and decide on what was really important. We found the following, though everyone is different:

1. We wanted a single-family, detached home. Our first house was part of a townhouse development, so we had attached neighbors on both sides. It was also a two family, so we had a tenant below us. While the house was great and the community was as well, we felt a little closed in. We always were watching out for noise because we didn’t want to bother people. It also felt, at time, as little tight. We decided we needed to make a move. It was worth foregoing the rental income to make it happen.

2. Once we decided we wanted a single-family house, we decided we need to move out of NYC and to the suburbs. The houses are more spread out, the schools are better, and the lifestyle is a little more family friendly. NYC has a number of amazing towns to live in, and we decided to look at towns on Long Island. It’s just east of Queens, we know the areas well, and we already had a number of family members there.

3. That leads us to the next factors for us – proximity to family and friends. We wanted to be close to our parents and friends. At the end of the day, that’s what life is all about, isn’t it? For us, to have a house we loved that is no where near our loved ones would really kind of be a hollow move. The benefits of being close to family are almost too numerous to list (babysitting anyone?) and it was huge for us.

4. School districts were also way up at the top of the list for us. This is what it’s all about, right? Moving into the town with the best schools that feel like they will be a great fit for you and your family. I did tons and tons of research, be it test scores, class sizes, college entrances, and more. On Long Island, there are a number of great districts, so we had a ton to sort through.

5. Amenities and proximity were next. We wanted to be close. Close to work, close to NYC, close to shopping, close to beaches, close to parks, close to family, close to everything. Convenience and overall lifestyle was much more important to us than the size of the house and lot. For many it’s the reverse, but we wanted to live a life that we felt were complete. We quickly narrowed down the towns to the best in Nassau County. With LIRR access to NYC, and everything else we wanted, there were still a number of options, but the list was quickly dwindling when schools were factored in.

6. Affordability was next, and obviously vital to the entire process. On Long Island, the property taxes are the second highest in the country, and the home prices are very high as well. The better the town, the higher the prices and taxes. Everyone has to move to a place that they can afford. Not only afford the downpayment, but also the monthly mortgage payment as well as the tax payment. This is a no-brainer and this is exactly where financial institutions like Bank of America come so critically into play. At the end of the day, for most of us at least, this is the end-all-be-all.

7. The house itself. Once this was all sorted, out, it was fairly easy. We were in 2006 and the housing market was on-fire. We had to act and act fast to get a home we liked. In our chosen town and price range, we quickly narrowed it down. Our town is actually pretty wide, so we even narrowed it down further to being on the Northeastern part of town. From that point, we went to maybe 10 open houses, that’s it, and made our offer. We went back and forth and bit and basically met at a fair price right in the middle of the ask and our initial bid. From that point, it was all about documents and closing time.

It was a long and arduous process from beginning to end, but it was a really enjoyable one for the most part. It was a huge decision to be made, but it was one that we were happy to make. We chose the path and took it. Ten years later, we could not be happier. We continuously update the house (oh, I’ve painted so much) and make minor improvements when we can. The kids love their schools, their friends, and the town. So do we. It’s just a complete, enjoyable life. The one that we hoped for an envisioned when we planned the move. It was tough and sometimes that monthly nut it a large one to swallow, but it’s all worth it. Like I mentioned, it’s pretty much the biggest and most important decision that most of us will make in our lifetimes, so make it a good one. While buying a house is a huge step, it’s an important one. According to the HBIR, an amazing 95% of current homeowners feel proud of owning their home. When was the last time you saw 95% of people agree on anything???

I really hope this helped. If you are on the fence, take the leap! Homeownership is part of the American Dream for a very good reason. If you are confused on how to get started with your homebuying journey, maybe you can begin the process by connecting with a specialist at Bank of America. This website has just about everything you need to get the ball rolling, with a number of tools and resources to really help simplify the homebuying process for you. From mortgage calculators to pre-qualification information to habits for managing your money better it’s all right there. It’s really a tremendous information source, and you’ll need all the info when you can. This is a big deal, right?

Just remember, you’re far from alone in this. Again, the HBIR is an awesome resource to reference, with real insights from real people just like you. Take a look and take it in. Once you move into that new home and everything feels just right, you’ll be glad that you did. Best of luck and welcome home!

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Bank of America Homebuyer Insights Report.

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