When most first time buyers start the process of looking for their “dream” home, they often have a list on their “must haves.” First of all, this is a good idea. Always make sure you have specific ideas of what you want in a home. But keep in mind that buying a home is making compromises. I have often discussed that there really is no such thing as a dream home, which is why I often put the word in quotations. First time home buyers often believe the sky will open and that magical house will suddenly appear. However, usually making concessions is the name of the game, particularly if you are looking for a home in a particular neighbourhood or price range.
First, let’s take a look at what buyers should overlook. Remember, walk into every home with an open mind, particularly with the points listed below.
It’s easy to walk into a home and gasp when you see pink walls or outdated wallpaper. Same can be said with the shag carpeting in the family room. But step back and try to see what the home will look like with your colours on the wall instead, or hardwood floors in place of the tacky carpeting. Changing paint, taking down wallpaper and removing carpet is easy. If you have to make any repairs, these are the ones you want to make. If you love a home, and the neighbourhood is exactly where you want to be, then don’t concentrate on what can be easily changed.
Instead of concentrating on the antique furniture, consider the layout of the home as well as the floor plan, room sizes, where the sun comes in and figure out if it fits in with your lifestyle. While often easier said than done when you are confronted with a large sectional couch that has seen better days, or some artwork that isn’t your taste, remember, they will be gone. Focus instead of what you like about the home.
If you walk into a kitchen and the first thing you notice is the outdated countertops, ignore them. Again, you can always update and pick out exactly what you want. Most buyers do this any way at some point and it’s an easy fix.
Big fluorescent lighting not your thing? 1980’s bathroom fixtures appalling? Again, these are easy and cheap things to replace and can often be done in a day or two. It’s amazing what a difference updated fixtures can make on a room, which is why I always encourage sellers to make this simple repair before they put their home on the market as it’s one less thing a buyer will find fault with.
So those are the top issues a buyer should think about when buying a home. Don’t stress over what can be easily changed if the house fits all of your other needs. However, there are some things you should not compromise about when buying a home.
If you have a specific budget (and who doesn’t?) then never go above what you feel comfortable in paying. What we have seen in the past few years with our struggling economy is that no one should stretch themselves too thin with a house payment. For those that think they will compromise and pay more, take it from a professional real estate agent, there will come a time where you will very frustrated if you can’t afford other things in life because you are tied to a high house payment.
Even if you don’t have children yet, or think that you never will, stay away from homes that are in a horrible school district. Why? Because one day you will want to move and properties in less than stellar school districts stay on the market a lot longer than homes in better school districts. If you ever need to sell quickly, you may have a very difficult time, as buyers, especially with families, only want the best schools.
If you are considering a home that is in need of major repairs, and your budget is small, walk away if a seller won’t come down in price or make the necessary corrections. Why? If you have a home that has a crumbling foundation, yet no money to repair it, then you are taking someone else’s problem and making them your own. At some point, you will need to make those costly repairs because chances are, another buyer won’t. It’s just not worth it to have a home that is a money pit.
You may find the most amazing house in town, but if it’s next door to a power plant or has severe asbestos issues, then you need to continue looking. Enough said.
You can always change the inside of a home, even the appearance of the outside, but you can’t move a home. Well, not easily any way. Location is really what matters to most buyers. Just because you found a great home, but it’s in an undesirable location, the neighbourhood looks a bit sketchy or the neighbours themselves don’t take care of their property, look elsewhere. Save yourself a ton of headaches because while you may say to yourself that you will spend the majority of your time inside the house, so the outside doesn’t matter, that feeling never lasts.
These are just a few of the examples on what compromises you should consider and those you shouldn’t. Again, like any purchase, but particularly with such a major financial decision such as this, it’s imperative that buyers think with their heads and leave their emotions in the car. The goal is to find a Windsor house where you can be happy for many years and if needed, sell at a premium price when that time comes.