Trade-Offs You Should & Shouldn’t Make When Searching for Your Next Home
If you're house hunting, this blog post is for you!
We’ve all been there - the excitement of finding a house that we think might be perfect, only to find out that it needs an expensive new roof or features a less-than-ideal layout (like no home office). With so many decisions to make during the home buying process, it's easy to get overwhelmed and just settle on the first decent house you see. But don't worry! I'm here with some hard-earned advice that can help you decide what trade-offs are worth making when searching for your next home.
When it comes to getting all of the features you want in your dream house, you may have to spend more than you anticipated. This is one of the more common compromises people face when shopping for a home. It can be tempting to spend outside of your comfort zone to get all the amenities you want.
You have a specific location in mind. You also have a square footage requirement and a minimum number of bedrooms and bathrooms. But these three factors don’t always align with your budget. The important thing is you don’t take on a mortgage loan that is too big. It is okay to stretch your budget a bit if you have the resources to do so. However, if you don’t leave yourself some breathing room when it comes to your budget, you are setting yourself up for a date with Murphy's Law (what can go wrong will go wrong).
There are many factors to consider when choosing the location of your new home. These factors can be a school district, proximity to work, nearby amenities such as parks, playgrounds, grocery stores, restaurants, and gyms. These factors can improve your quality of life and support your property value.
Locations with these factors typically become more desirable and expensive. So you may find you need to compromise with the location of your home. It ultimately comes down to your priorities. If you are most concerned about location but less with the size of your home, you may be able to compromise on square footage.
Fixer Upper vs Turn-Key
Be careful when and where to play the DIY card during your home selection process. By no means does your next home need to be complete “turn-key” from the start (mine was far from it), but consider how much and for how long each project will take you. Here are some of the projects that are usually DIY-friendly: painting, changing light fixtures, a thorough interior and exterior cleaning (including any carpets), landscaping, clearing unwanted vegetation, and power washing (house and walkways)
If you are in a position where getting your hands dirty and taking your time to make major changes is in your best interest, and ultimately your budget, then taking the sale price discount may be the better choice upfront.
Something to consider: the four most expensive home projects are typically the installation of an in-ground pool, total kitchen remodels, bathroom renovations (especially the main bathroom), the replacement of your roof, and the rewiring of your home.
Floorplan and Size
If your buying budget and desired location are more important to you, you may have to compromise on the square footage or the number of beds and baths.
That being said, you also have to consider the lifespan of your time in this home. Will there be more people living with you over time, or is this a home you will only spend a few years in? If this home is something you will only live in a few years, you may have more wiggle room as far as size is concerned. On the contrary, if you have long-term plans to stay in your next home, you may need to consider purchasing a home you can comfortably grow into.
More than anything, extra space is not easily changeable without a substantial amount of money on expansion efforts. If you know you need at least 4 bedrooms to accommodate your living situation, don’t settle for a smaller floor plan. This is the kind of compromise that could cause a great deal of stress later down the road.