When your budget allows for a large home or a spacious yard but not both, how do you choose? Here’s what you should consider in deciding on lot size versus house size.
As always, location
A generation ago, subdivisions were built with both generous house sizes and spacious lots. Drive through neighborhoods built in the 1960s and you’ll marvel at the space between houses. More recently, developers have carved land into more and smaller lots to maximize the number of homes they can sell. Sometimes these lots leave homeowners feeling cramped and lacking in privacy.
In order to find generous lots and square footage, buyers often must look out on the edge of cities. There you may find older subdivisions where homes need updating and replacement of aging systems, or newer neighborhoods that are even further from the city center. The rare properties closer in with both spacious lots and houses are very pricey.
What is important to you?
To decide between lot size versus house size, sort your priorities.
First, what does your budget allow? The size home and lot you can afford, as well as the upgrades and amenities, are limited by the size of the mortgage for which you qualify. It might be tempting to push past what you know you can afford to acquire a property with a big house on a large lot, but you’ll struggle later to pay for it. Therefore, most buyers have to choose what is most important to them.
Next, how big is your household and how large do you expect it to become? Where are you in the seasons of life? Are you a growing family, or are you empty nesters? Even if you yearn for a big yard in which to play and entertain, you will still spend most of your time indoors. A big yard won’t relieve you of cramped living space and lack of closet space for your growing family.
Also consider the commute time to work and other places you frequent. If you must live further out to have both a large home and a large yard, you may face a longer commute. Be sure to check the accessibility of nearby schools, shopping, parks and other attractions important to you.
Comparing lot size and house size
With a larger house you have more room to entertain, more room to accommodate guests, more storage and more space to spread out and relax. You also have more to keep clean, more square footage to heat and cool, higher property taxes and bigger systems to repair when broken.
With a larger lot size you have more room for outdoor entertaining on a deck, patio or pool, a privacy buffer from neighbors, space for a garden or for expanding your home and room for romping with kids and grandkids. On the other hand, your landscape maintenance increases significantly.
If you decide you’d prefer a larger home, remember to evaluate the house you’re considering relative to other homes nearby. Buying the largest home in a neighborhood of smaller ones is generally not a good financial decision. Further, the mortgage pre-approval process will determine the lot size, square footage, and amenities that a buyer can afford.
Related: Choosing a Lot: It’s All About Location