Looking for a new home for the first time can be a lot of things—exciting, fun, and life changing. And with so many details, it can also be overwhelming. In order to help ease some of the uncertainty that comes with going through this process for the first time, we’ve decided to put together a series of posts to serve as a new home buying guide. In this series, we will offer tips to help you through the process, from initial considerations to selecting your home to the process of buying, building, and closing on your new home.

As the first part of the series, we check out the 6 basic things to consider when shopping new home communities:

Watergrass-2706-11. Location. It’s possible that the decision on where you will look for a home will be the first decision you make. It can be tempting to narrow by town, but you may also want to start with a radius from a certain spot on a map. You need to consider the proximity to work, school, and other activities. Use an online map to show you travel options and traffic or train times from a potential area. You should imagine a typical week and the places you go, and how often you go there. You should also consider the accessibility of highways, trains, and other travel resources. A great location with easy access to school, amenities, and work can be a key to overall happiness!

Watergrass-7545-web-1-1024x6832. Neighborhood. It’s a great idea to spend a little time in neighborhoods you are considering. Park and watch the community activity to get a feel for what it will be like to live there—are the people active? Are there well-kept parks and playgrounds that kids seem to enjoy? Look around to see what your view out your window could be—are homes, lawns, and community landscaping appealing?

WaterGrassElementary-030-1-1024x6423. Schools. Whether you have school-aged children or not, schools are an excellent thing to consider when looking for a home. A great school district can impact the value of your purchase. And if you have school-aged children, the schools can carry a lot of weight. Consider both the quality of the schools your children will attend and the location. It’s wonderful to live where your school is only a short distance away. At WaterGrass, the elementary school is located right within the community!

Watergrass-7465-web-1-1024x5644. Community Amenities. A great community can improve your entire lifestyle. Consider amenities that could be available right outside your door, and how that might affect your day-to-day activity. Are there great places to walk, play, and enjoy the outdoors? If you choose a clubhouse community like WaterGrass, you could have access to a fitness center and kids play area all year, tennis and basketball courts, neighborhood parks and playgrounds, and incredible pools where you can relax or splash the day away.

Screen-Shot-2016-07-20-at-1.59.01-PM5. Builder Options. If you are building a new home, you want to find a builder who matches your style. You also want to find a builder with a great reputation—you want to know that other people love their homes by this builder. If you are building a home from scratch, you want the building process to have a great reputation as well. It is a big commitment to work with a builder, and you want to know the experience will be as smooth as possible. At WaterGrass, we’ve done the hard work of narrowing down builders to only the best for you so you can take the time to choose the builder whose style suits your dream and budget.

WaterGrass-Park2-16. Budget. You will need to figure out your overall budget for a home. You should factor in the mortgage payment, property tax, as well as additional expenses. If you are buying a resale home, consider the cost of replacing items that may need to be replaced for wear and tear. If you are buying a new home, everything is new and you will have warranties, so that is not a concern. You also should consider the cost of furniture, window treatments, and other essentials.

All of the above items should help you narrow your initial search! Then you can start the fun job of choosing a builder and floorplan, and moving closer to purchasing your new home!

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