With so many details to track when buying a home, items can slip through the cracks. Figuring out which areas you shouldn’t overlook is the first step toward mitigating remorse.
With avoiding that sinking feeling in mind, realtor.com®spoke with a couple of agents about what to pay attention to when buying a home.
1. Lifestyle vs. resale value
Marty Winefield emphasizes this concept with his clients. Buying a home is a personal choice, so make sure you know whether you’re buying for resale value or for lifestyle. Some clients buy with the bottom line at the top of mind while others care more about their quality of life.
2. Size: It matters!
REALTOR® Nina Goldsmith of @properties in Chicago cites a house that seemed perfect on paper. She showed it 102 times in about three months. The house had three bedrooms and two bathrooms in a nice area. The downside? The bedrooms were extremely small—and small enough to turn off potential buyers once they saw the place.
Winefield says two-bedroom, two-bathroom condos abound in Chicago.
But if one of those bathrooms has a shower without a tub and the buyers have children or plan to, that bathroom becomes “almost useless”.
Don’t overlook your future needs, or the needs of every resident of the house.
You probably have an idea of how many you want.
But are they the right kind? Something large enough for an infant now may not accommodate a desk and bunk beds later.
A funky seven-walled bedroom may delight your design sense, but will your furniture fit in there?
Don’t overlook the practicalities of rooms as you fall in love with a house.
That tiny house Goldsmith showed over a hundred times sat on the corner of a busy street, which also turned off buyers.
A fence used to guard part of the yard, but it was removed by a prior owner.
In an area with good schools, the house appealed to families—but a home with no fence on a busy block can be a deal breaker.
6. Wall color
Goldsmith reminds buyers paint is cosmetic. Bricks aren’t.
It’s easy to repaint a kitchen if you don’t like the color—go ahead and breeze past a confusing color choice
But falling in love with a home’s brick walls or dark wood paneling may prove tricky when you try to resell and you realize most buyers don’t share your aesthetics.
People moving from apartments may dismiss a tiny or nonexistent yard.
But a large yard helps resale value. And some might ask, “Why buy a house at all if you don’t want any land with it?”
Many buyers won’t buy a home with a pool, because they don’t want to deal with the upkeep, which gets expensive, Goldsmith says. But if you really want a pool, the upkeep may be worth it.
Just know that if you buy the home, you may wind up filling in the pool—or wishing the original owners did—when it’s time to sell.
9. The little things
Does the freezer door open all the way?
Does the layout mean in order to pass from kitchen to bedroom you’ll have to go through the living room?
Does the small living room push your overstuffed couch too close to the TV?
How You Can Avoid These 9 Traps
Listen to your real estate agent. If an agent expresses concerns about a feature or perceived fault, hear them out. You might buy anyway, but at least you’ll know what you’re getting into.
Listen to your brain as well as your heart. Don’t let emotion rule your decisions.
Visit often. Kick the tires, as it were—open all the doors, latch all the windows, and visit again and again to make sure you aren’t missing anything. You might see something the second or third time you didn’t see the first time you looked at a place.
“Take your time,” Goldsmith adds. “Is this really where you want to live? Is this good for you, your family and the way you want to live?”
Remember, an extra visit or two won’t cost much—but buying the wrong house could cost you plenty.
Based on an earlier version by Herbert J. Cohen.