As Valentine’s Day approaches, love is in the air. And if you’re on the search for a home, you’re undoubtedly hoping to find that special house that makes you weak in the knees. Maybe you’ve never been in love (with a house), or perhaps you’re a homeowner who has fallen out of love and is ready to move on. Here are some ideas on how to find your perfect match.
Keep in mind: crushing on a house is a heady feeling, but it’s important to remain somewhat pragmatic so you don’t find yourself living in a nightmare rather than a dream! To avoid heartbreak and disappointment, there are some things to keep your romance grounded in reality.
When looking for love, first consider your vibe. Are you drawn to sleek, contemporary houses? Victorian or Craftsman style homes? This is a start when creating a “house dating profile!”
Next, create a list of “must-haves.” Remember, these are needs, not just wants – must-haves, not just nice-to-haves.
This will be a highly personalized list, but here are 15 possible non-negotiable must-haves:
- One-story living
- Type of home (single family, townhome, condo)
- Shorter commute
- Safe area
- Designated parking
- Specific number of bedrooms
- Plenty of storage space
- Over 55 community
- Fenced yard for children and/or pets
- Green features
- Hi-Tech wiring and security
- Multigenerational home
- Mother-in-law suite
- Within Budget
Next, choose your wish list of wants. Some of the must-haves listed above might actually fit better in this list, but here 15 other possibilities:
- Chef’s kitchen
- Smart home features
- Open floor plan
- Upstairs washer and dryer
- Playground within walking distance
- Gated/master-planned community
- Hot tub
- Media room
- Wine storage
- Workout room
- Master bath spa
- Outdoor kitchen
- Covered patio
- Luxury flooring
Choose a knowledgeable matchmaker
Once you have come up with your must-have and wish lists, it’s time to share these with a real estate agent who has experience working within the geographic region you’re seeking. Although there are many good search engines online to help you filter appropriate home listings, a good REALTOR® has access to much more information than the ordinary consumer.
A C21Redwood.com agent will not only show you homes that are active on the market, under contract and recently sold — but will also alert you to homes that are COMING SOON! This behind-the-scenes insight boosts your advantage, particularly in a seller’s market.
Also, if you’d rather ease into homeownership, a rent-to-own plan may be right for you. CENTURY 21 Redwood has collaborated with Home Partners of America to create a tool to search for rent-to-own homes, allowing you to experience living in the home you think is your dream home before taking on all the obligations that come with home ownership. Each month’s rent becomes an investment in your future.
Once you start visiting homes, remember that just like you should do on a first date, look for red flags. Even homes that seem to have all the bells and whistles might have underlying issues. Here are some tips.
Ask to see the attic.
- Look for proper insulation since a house can lose a lot of heat/air conditioning from a poorly insulated roof.
- Look to see if there is any kind of rodent infestation.
- Look for leaks.
- Check for old wiring.
Check out the basement.
- Look for leaks (old, current or hidden):
- Water stains on drywall, drop ceiling tiles or wood.
- Peeling paint
- Bulging or swelling walls
- A chalky white substance (mineral deposits from the water)
- Look for signs of mold. If the basement smells musty or “dank,” find out if there has ever been a mold issue. Mold growth can be a health concern as well as indicating a structural problem.
- Signs of a faulty foundation may not always be in the basement. Look for:
- Leaning chimneys
- Doors and windows that are hard to open or close
- Cracks on walls or floors
- Sinking front porches
- Buckling floors
Use your nose.
If there is a strong perfumed smell suggesting scented spray, candles, or plugins everywhere, this might indicate a cover up. Did the previous owner have messy pets? Were they smokers? These odors can be really difficult to expel.
Other potential red flags:
Most issues will be found and noted by a good home inspector, but before you get to that point in the negotiations, take note of these possible issues:
- Poor drainage (wet yard when no sprinkler system is utilized)
- Overgrown yard
- Parking problems
- HOA fees, constraints, demands
- Nearby railroad tracks, highways, heavy industry
- Large trees too close to the house
The flip side of all this: don’t get too hung up on superficial blemishes. Paint color can be changed. Maybe beautiful hardwood floors are hiding under stained carpet. It’s the deeper issues that are sometimes harder to see but are problematic. Don’t be dazzled by cosmetic enhancements, and don’t be deterred by the lack of them. A real gem could be hiding and with proper budgeting can be polished to perfection.
Just as it’s wise when dating to find out the sort of company your prospective partner keeps, it’s also important to check out a potential new home’s neighbors. But how can you do that without knocking on doors and scheduling coffee time with everyone? The truth is, you’ll be hard pressed to find out everything, but there are some tell-tale warning signs.
Use your intuition. Check out the people who are walking down the street. Look at the signs people post in their yards. Are they menacing or in bad taste?
Check out the adjacent properties. Are they derelict or poorly maintained? Are there an awful lot of cars parked at one house – or a lot of comings and goings there?
Are there many, many houses on the market in a given neighborhood? If so, you’ll need to do some investigating to find out why. Is there a crime problem? Is something coming to the community that is less-than-desirable to live near? Better to know now so that you can make an informed decision on whether to proceed with an offer.
Plan for the future. When possible – and if necessary, make sure there’s room to grow.
If your wish list includes an attached garage and the house you love has everything but that, don’t immediately exclude it as a possibility. Is the yard big enough to add one? Are the setbacks amenable to that addition? Would it be within your budget?
Your perfect match is out there somewhere, maybe it’s time to start looking!
If you’re interested in buying a home, reach out to one of our agents.