What to buy - the pro and con list

Buying a home is a big decision and shouldn't be taken lightly. Beyond talking with people whose opinion you value, it's also a good idea to look at buying a home from every angle possible. Should you buy in the country or city? Do you need to be near schools, medical centers, or shopping? What about traffic near your home?

Sorting out all the variables to determine what's most important to you can seem a bit overwhelming. Consider making a list of pros and cons for your choices and rank them as you like to see which homes currently on the market best fit your needs.

Here's some categories and things to consider as a way to get you started (by no means is this a comprehensive list):

Suburbs vs. Country
Pros: Usually newer home, can be less expensive.
Cons: Longer drive to work, shopping or entertainment.

Cul de Sac
Pros: Very little traffic and a number one choice of families with children.
Cons: Less privacy, neighbors know more about you.

Corner lot
Pros: Larger lot size and fewer neighbors.
Cons: More traffic and higher visibility.

Single-family home
Pros: More privacy, quieter, opportunity for landscaping and garden.
Cons: More maintenance.

Condos and town homes
Pros: Lower maintenance, lends itself to an on-the-go lifestyle.
Cons: Less privacy, noisier, common walls, ceilings and balconies.

Two story home
Pros: More living space on the same foundation. Much easier to separate activity in the home, which may be helpful with children.
Cons: Making multiple trips up and down the stairs each day. Keeping young children away from the stairs.

Single story home
Pros: Easier for the elderly and those with medical conditions. Easier to clean and navigate.
Cons: Noisier and less living space relative to the lot size.

Some other things you will want to consider are your proximity to schools for young children. You will need to consider utility service to the home, not only power, gas, water and sewer, but also telephone, cable, and Internet.

By writing down your priorities and determining the pros and cons of the things most important to you in a home, you will find it easier to narrow down your search for the perfect home.