Every successful home search begins with a wish list. Armed with your inventory of must-haves, you'll know how to focus your search and recognize a potential home that isn't worth your time.
Still, there's a strange thing that seems to happen when you're deep in the trenches of house hunting: The more you look, the longer that wish list seems to grow. But sooner or later, you have to own up to the fact that you can’t have everything—it's inevitable that you'll make some compromises somewhere.
And, in these days of tight inventory and cutthroat competition from other buyers, you might feel forced to waver far afield from your hallowed wish list in order to land a home.
That's OK—it’s important to be flexible. But there are a few times when you absolutely should draw the line. Here are seven areas where you'll want to dig in your heels.
1. The floor plan
It’s difficult and expensive to reconfigure a home’s floor plan. If a home does not fit your buyers’ minimum criteria in terms of number of rooms and the flow of the main living areas, they should cross it off their list. You can change a layout to make it an open floor plan, but it’s a lot more difficult to change the bedroom and bathroom count. In the long run, you could end up having a lot of problems and taking on a really big financial undertaking.
2. Buying a fixer-upper when you really want turnkey
You have never swung a hammer, have a phobia of power tools, and always pictured yourself in something new and shiny. But that doesn’t mean you won’t fall in love with a charming, century-old farmhouse that needs a ton of work. Now's when you have to decide: Are you up to the financial and emotional challenges of taking on major renovations?
It's an option you should seriously consider (with the help of an experienced general contractor) if you're in a highly competitive market. But if you don’t think your bank account or your marriage could survive many months of upheaval, stick to your guns and insist on a turnkey home.
Community And School Reports
The Cascade Team has made it easier than ever to learn more about your local schools and neighborhoods. Our School Reports include both public and private schools and make it easy to compare them side by side. Community Reports are filled with all kinds of useful information to compare and help you make informed decisions about where to live.
3. A good school district
Even if you don't have children, you should make sure the house you’re eyeing has desirable schools nearby.
It Doesn't matter if you're not looking to have kids? And "Of Course", things can always change. But even if they don't, good schools typically translate to a higher resale value—potential buyers with families will want to be in the right district.
Just make sure to do your research and determine where the home sits in relation to the school district boundaries.
Often agents will advertise a property as being near such-and-such school area, but not necessarily specify the district, which can be very confusing. It can be a real eye-opener if a buyer closes and they’re on one side of a main street that is the dividing line between the top-rated and the lowest-rated high schools. We suggest that buyers themselves go to the school district's website to get a map of the district boundaries.
4. Your budget
You've probably already determined how much you're willing to pay for a home—and you shouldn't budge on that number. But you should also dig in your heels on the additional costs beyond the sticker price. That means setting a budget for your monthly payments, HOA dues, utility costs, and real estate taxes—and sticking to it. (Hint: You want to do this before you start looking at homes, and definitely before you start making offers.)
Yes, a lender will give you a pre-approval and tell you how much house you can afford. But this is just one piece of the puzzle, and the costs of homeownership can still land you in a mountain of debt if you're not careful.
We suggest that our clients do a lot of pre-planning in thinking about what can they really afford, as opposed to what the bank tells them. You never want to be house poor.
5. The neighbors
During your search, don’t just focus on the house you’re interested in—check out the neighboring homes as well. Are the properties well-kept, or candidates for an episode of "Hoarders"?
You can’t change the house in front of you or to the side of you, so if there’s a barking dog every time you’re viewing the property, that’s another thing that you absolutely cannot change. Be alert for everything going on in and around your perspective new home.
6. Commute time
If you’ve already determined that you’re willing to take on a 30-minute commute, don’t allow yourself to be swayed into anything longer.
Sometimes buyers fall in love with all the shiny bells and whistles of a house that’s an hour away from work, and want to compromise on what they’ve told been saying from the beginning..... But; while they may think it doesn't matter right now because they really love this particular house, that drive is two hours every day that they’ll be sitting in the car and not enjoying their house. Is that worth it to you?
Additionally: Until you’ve actually driven the route to and from your potential home and your office, at the times you'll be commuting, you should never consider compromising.
In some large cities, being just a few miles from the highway can tack on an additional hour of commuting. Could you handle that after a long day in the office? Think carefully before making the sacrifice.
Speaking of your car, if you own one (or two), you absolutely want a guaranteed spot to park, whether that means an enclosed garage, a driveway, or assigned parking. There are many communities that now restrict outside parking, guest spaces, and overnight parking, which could be a real homeowner nightmare if you have to fend for yourself. Typically this information can be found in the neighborhood covenants or HOA guidelines and viewed before an offer is made.
To avoid frustration after you’ve closed a deal, stick to your guns about the things that are most important to you while making your choice, and ignore the rest of the noise.
The Cascade Team Real Estate is a company like no other because of the marketing, service and home seller savings we provide. We understand that in today’s real estate & home selling environment, we need to provide a high level of real estate service and wide spread marketing of the home for sale, utilize technology to keep our home seller clients in the communication loop and provide added value to both buyers and home sellers in the real estate transaction. The effective use of technology tools allows our local Seattle & San Diego real estate agents to focus more of their time on servicing our clients and finding buyers for your home, all the while providing the most comprehensive real estate marketing program available. In the end, you get the perfect combination of online real estate tools and personal service in the home selling process.