When searching for a new home, on top of the size of the home, style, location and price, home buyers need to take into account their personal growth cycle and the specific needs that come at each life stage.
In your 20s and 30s: While your first home isn't typically your last one, you do want it to serve your needs for a few years to come.
At this age you may be just starting to grow in your career, and the salary you're being paid may not reflect the hours you're putting in. Do you have the time and money to dedicate to home maintenance? If you're single, a small condo, near to work, with little maintenance required by you can be ideal. But don't close your eyes to slightly larger options too, to give you something to grow into — perhaps with a partner or child in your next stage of life.
Be sure to think through what type of mortgages is best for you in the long term. For example, while a variable or adjustable-rate mortgage may tempt you with its lower rates, you will also want to talk to your mortgage representative about the pros and cons of a fixed-rate mortgage to help with budgeting expectations over time.
In your 40s and 50s: You're probably at the peak of your career and earning years, and if you have children in the household and a mortgage too, you're most likely also in your busiest spending years.
If you're looking for a new family home, you'll want to talk to your real estate agent salesperson about getting the most usable space and most convenient amenities. Your job and family will weigh heavily in your decision, and you may find yourself considering things like:
Your commute from work. Will you be moving to a home further from your job or job prospects just to get a bigger backyard or living space, when in reality the longer commute will mean you won't get home in time to enjoy it during the week?
The demographics of the area. If you have children, for example, you'll likely want to move into an area that includes families with whom you have shared interests. A social network of like-minded individuals makes living where you do more pleasant for both you and your entire family.
In your 60s and beyond: With retirement now either a new lifestyle or an imminent reality, homeowners start viewing their homes under a new light.
Empty nesters may find themselves recognizing that their home doesn't align with their needs anymore, whether that means rooms that simply aren't being used or area amenities like schools not being a necessity. In addition, house residents may find stairs becoming a hardship, and outdoor maintenance and gardening turning from a pleasure into a nuisance. At this point, homeowners may want to get the most out of the equity they've built up in their home to put toward their new lifestyle.
The key to happy home ownership at any age lies in recognizing your changing wants and needs, and being aware of the value of your current home in supporting your next steps.
Talk to your real estate sales representative about your plans, and find out how much your home is worth in today's market so that you can get an idea as to how it can support your next move.