Flaws versus deal breakers. Know the difference.
All homes have flaws. Some you can deal with… while others are deal breakers. Here's how to know the difference.
The most realistic and savvy buyers we work with understand the need for compromise.
Smart buyers evaluate both the positive and negative features of a home and weigh their relative importance. This type of deep thought about what you really want is essential. When looking for a home in any price range, there will be ALWAYS be something about each that you will find less than ideal. You are going to have to settle. The key is to know which imperfections are mere nuisances and which are fatal flaws.
Particularly when purchasing your first home, emotions are running high. You are going from zero to something, and you have to start somewhere, so you may be more inclined to overlook more than you should. But remember… you are also going to have to live in that home. It is critical to make sure that while you aren’t sweating the small stuff, you are recognizing the truly important things. Don't let anyone push you into buying if you're not ready.
Location. There are a million things under the category of location including neighborhood, schools, view, and lot size to name a few. Sometimes it's hard to know what type of neighborhood is right for you. But you need to be very clear on this point in your own mind. You can fix and remodel a lot of things, but you can't move the house.
Surface stuff… like paint, carpet and cleanliness. These are the easy things, but they are the things many buyers have the most difficulty looking past, since they are so visible. If the home needs a thorough cleaning, hire someone. Soiled carpeting or carpeting of a questionable style or color (such as peach-colored shag carpet) can be replaced or cleaned. Even the olive green appliances most recently seen in a 1970s studio apartment are easily remedied over time. Home Depot is happy to sell you a fridge. Ugly paint is an afternoon and $40 to fix. Get past the surface stuff, and you'll be in a much better position to the see the true potential of each home you tour.
Really, really, really, important:
Structural integrity. Foundation issues are bad. Houses that are "crooked" are not just going to be hard to wallpaper, they might end up costing you tens of thousands… not to mention more than a few headaches. Yet another reason we always recommend home inspections.
Landscaping. Brown grass? Dead shrubbery? It is ok. Even if the backyard looks like the surface of Mars, remember that it is all fixable. Consider it an awesome opportunity to get high-quality exercise without a gym membership. Or if that really doesn't work for you, think about a condo. Any home with a yard will take work (or money) to maintain. If that makes you ill, opt out.
Number of rooms. Unless you want to start bunking with your four-year old, room count is something you want to not compromise on. Don't settle for two bedrooms when you really need three. You'll regret it. And we don’t want to see that happen.
Room size. On the face, it may sound crazy to suggest that room size is not a big deal, and to some degree that's right. A 8 X 8 living room isn’t going to host a great game night.
But buying a home based on its ability to accommodate old, oversized furniture is a strong tendency… and it's not always smart. An oversized, 10 year-old bedframe should not deter you from buying a $400,000 house that in every other way worked for you.
Most things in the health and safety category. Some health and safety issues, of course, are easily addressed. Ground Fault Connector Interrupt (GFCI) outlets (the special outlets with tiny reset buttons which keep you from electrocuting yourself while blow-drying your hair in the bathtub) are cheap items which can be replaced in minutes. Certain varieties of black mold, on the other hand, can be toxic and should be taken seriously.
These are just a few examples of types of things you'll be thinking about as you evaluate possible homes. Just keep in mind what really matters and you'll have a much easier and enjoyable time finding the perfect home for you.