When you’re in the market for a new house, you need to draw up a long list of what’s important to you. From location to the number of bedrooms you need, there are many details to consider. But, as you search for your dream home, you’ll soon realize that finding one that ticks all the right boxes is fairly difficult.
So, before you even begin the search, create a “needs” and “wants” list. Essentially, the aspects that fall under “needs” are required, whereas you can allow for a little more flexibility when it comes to your “wants.” With that in mind, let’s take a look at the things you should (and should never) compromise on when looking to buy a new home.
Ready-to-Go vs. Fixer-Upper
The majority of people would prefer to move into a home that’s ready to go with minimal work required to get it up to snuff. However, don’t rule out a fixer-upper entirely. That’s because these homes typically offer a lower price tag and can be found in some superb locations that you might not be able to afford otherwise.
Of course, the amount of work required is also important, so tread carefully. Likewise, consider your own well-being and that of your family. In particular, if you’re not keen on the idea of living in a home that’s under construction, this probably isn’t the right choice for you. Alternatively, if you find an incredible home that needs only a little cosmetic work, you might find that it’s worth the compromise.
Before you begin your house hunt, it’s essential to create a watertight budget. First, get pre-approved for a loan to find out how much home you can afford, and don’t forget to add in the closing costs. Finally, think about how much you can afford to pay on a monthly basis going forward, making sure to include property taxes, mortgage payments and utilities.
Then, once you’ve crunched the numbers and landed on a figure that’s both achievable and comfortable, don’t compromise! No matter how much you love a house that’s out of your budget, overstretching yourself financially just isn’t worth it.
We can all envision our ideal home, complete with spacious hallways and gorgeous, open kitchens. However, it’s important not to get too bogged down in the details. Unless you’re designing your dream home from scratch, there’s a good chance that you’ll never find the perfect floor plan. So, now is a good time to bring out your “needs” versus “wants” list.
For example, if you long for an open kitchen, but find an otherwise fantastic house without one, maybe it’s worth compromising. After all, most of us don’t necessarily need an open kitchen, it would just be nice to have. The same applies to square footage, to some extent. You know how much space you need to live comfortably, but if you plan to expand your family, be sure to factor that in.
Number of Bedrooms
Along the same lines, you likely know how many bedrooms you’ll need and it’s important to stick with it. For families with kids and more on the way, this is particularly important: You might be able to share a room with a newborn, but kids will want their own space soon enough — and so will you.
The exception here is a guest bedroom. Perhaps you don’t really need that extra room, but it’s something you want. Or, maybe you’ve found a home with an attic or basement that could realistically be transformed into a spare room in the future. In this case, you could buy a home with fewer bedrooms than you’d planned on without actually compromising on the space you need.
The one aspect you can never change about your home is its location. So, if you’ve made up your mind about the type of neighborhood you want to call home, then it’s a good idea to stick to your guns. However, getting fixated on one specific neighborhood isn’t always a great plan. Rather, keep an open mind and seek out similar neighborhoods that might fit your needs. Moreover, spend some time in neighborhoods you’re interested in to really get a feel for the place. You never know — you might find somewhere that’s even better than your #1 choice.
Don’t compromise on school districts. This is true even if you don’t have (or plan to have) kids. That’s because good schools typically have a direct influence on property prices. So, if you plan to sell in the future, it can be beneficial to have a home that’s located in a great area.
To that end, check the boundary lines of the school district you’re interested in online in advance. Then, determine which neighborhoods fall into the district and focus your search there. However, just like a neighborhood, avoid becoming overly fixated on one particular school or area. A little research might reveal some equally good options, thereby offering you more choices when it comes to finding the right home.
It can be easy to take utilities for granted, but it’s worth considering them. For example, you might ignore homes that use gas rather than electricity for heating and other applications. However, it’s worth looking into both options when house-hunting. Keep an open mind and be sure to research utility costs in the area.
Conversely, if you’re looking to buy a rural home, don’t be tempted to compromise on utilities. While most of us consider running water and constant electricity a given, in some remote areas, not all homes have all of the utilities you might be used to. And, although a house without modern plumbing or electricity may be much less expensive, implementing these features can become quite pricey very quickly.
Similarly, technology — such as a fast internet connection — should also be considered. Granted, you might well be willing to compromise on this one if you’re looking to ditch the digital lifestyle. But, for most of us in the modern world, a fast internet connection is a “need” rather than a “want.”
Finally, determine what you consider a reasonable commute and don’t budge on your upper limit. Even with the current work-from-home and hybrid models, you’ll still probably need to go into the office from time to time. Or, perhaps your job requires your daily presence in the workplace. In any case, the last thing you want to do is spend two hours or more each day on the road to work — no matter how great the house is. Of course, you could likely realize great financial savings by moving further from your place of work. But, the mental stress of a long commute (not to mention the extra time away from your loved ones) can be extremely damaging over time.