House Hunting 101: It's Not Like the TV Show!


If you’re a fan of HGTV’s “House Hunters,” you know how it works. Compile of a list of your “must-haves” in a home. Then jump into your car and visit three houses before finding that perfect match and live happily ever after. In real life, a house search isn’t what we see on tv.


Although it’s important to prioritize needs and expectations for a new home, flexibility during the process remains a key component to finding the house that best suits your lifestyle and needs now—and in the future.


Many homebuyers list needs in several categories including neighborhood, overall size, number of bedrooms, cosmetic finishes and school districts. All of these considerations are valid, but each deserves a slightly closer look.


NEIGHBORHOODS


Because neighborhoods change quickly and can vary within just a few miles, it’s important to take a deeper dive into what amenities of a particular neighborhood are most important.


It’s easy for buyers to identify a “need” of a specific neighborhood instead of an actual “need” for access to transportation centers, a reasonable commute or living within a particular school district. A buyer may yearn to walk to local shops or prefer to enjoy a more suburban lifestyle.


Keeping an open mind about homes in similar neighborhoods may help a homebuyer in the home search. Sometimes a perceived “need” can disappear when a buyer finds a house that’s perfect in every other way.


The Takeaway: Carefully consider the actual “need” behind a neighborhood choice and remain flexible when weighing your options.


SIZE/CONDITION


The “House Hunters Checklist” often includes a definite must-have for the size of the home including the number of bedrooms. Keeping an open mind about square footage is another important aspect of flexibility in the home search process.


Be creative as you consider the use of a potential floor plan. Can the nook in the primary bedroom be used for an exercise area? Is the formal living room a perfect spot for the desired play room? Even the number of bedrooms can be a point of flexibility for some people. Perhaps that two-bedroom home in a great location with a killer view can actually accommodate the buyer’s need for a home office by placing a desk in the dining area.


Is the home filled with old carpet or does it need a paint job? Be open-minded about cosmetic fixes. Creating an ideal home is sometimes a process.


The Takeaway: Today’s lifestyle requires flexibility—and that includes how we utilize the spaces in our homes. Selecting a slightly smaller home is a reasonable compromise for a buyer’s dream neighborhood. Don’t fret too much about cosmetic issues. Over time, these issues can be addressed.


RESALE VALUE

A home purchase is a huge investment. It’s important for buyers to consider any neighborhood impact on their resale value.


For example, when buying in a new development with years of construction left, your home may be more difficult to sell in a few years as buyers are lured by the new construction and the perks that accompany that purchase.


In a more established neighborhood, it’s a good idea to review sales of the past few years and pinpoint locations for homes have held their value or have increased. Consider seeking out an “up and coming” neighborhood.


Finally, take a moment to consider proposed construction in the area. A new park adds value, while an upcoming warehouse build may not.


The takeaway: Although a home purchase is highly emotional, it is an investment. Of course, there is no crystal ball to peek into the future, but it’s a good idea to do your homework as you consider buying a home.


Finding the balance between price, location and amenities can take time. Keep your checklist in hand, but be flexible during the process. Perhaps your dream home is just around the corner!

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