Decisions. Decisions. Decisions. You’ve narrowed down what you think is the perfect home, but have you assessed all of the little things on top of the major items? Make sure your home purchase is well suited to your needs by reviewing these easy-to-miss home factors.
Closet Size & Storage Space
Older homes have a lot of characteristic appeal, but when it comes to storage space, they fall short. If you’re accustomed to having a spacious walk-in closet, pantry, linen closet, etc., you may have to improvise or remodel to achieve your optimal storage solution.
The same goes for garages. Is there enough room to fit one or two vehicles on top of your riding lawn mower, snow blower, etc.? Would you need a storage shed for the backyard?
A walk-through is mostly spent on the interior of a home, but double-check that the exterior of a home is right for your outdoor living needs, as well. What’s the age and condition of the deck? Is there enough room to fit your children’s play set or build that DIY fire pit you always wanted? If you have children/grandchildren or plan to in the future, will you want to fence in your backyard? Will you need to upgrade from a push mower to a riding lawn mower?
The Cost & Labor of “Small” Updates
Freshly painted walls, cleaned carpeting and perfectly placed furniture are high on sellers’ to-do lists, but don’t get too distracted by home staging and forget about things that need some attention. That cracked tile in the bathroom, the need for new ceiling fans and lighting, blemishes in the drywall, etc. can easily go unnoticed and add up your repair and home improvement costs come move-in time.
Write a list of items in need of some attention – both aesthetic and necessity – and calculate the cost of what it would take to repair or replace. Some of those items can be negotiated in your purchase offer, but in a competitive market you may not have much wiggle room on asking price.
Of course, we always suggest having a home inspection completed to help you assess and avoid the need for major system repairs.
If you’re like the 70 percent of homeowners who don’t use their garage for parking their car, you’ll need to determine if the driveway is up to your needs. Though a single-car driveway means less time shoveling snow come wintertime, it can be a nuisance for multiple-car families or homeowners who entertain often. Is there sufficient street parking? Can you add a parking pad or another lane to the driveway?
When scheduling a second walk-through, try to shoot for a different time of day than your first showing. If you looked at a potential home in the middle of the day, you may not have noticed the amount of traffic noise coming from a nearby road.
A heavy amount of noise could also be caused by poorly-fit or older windows that you may need to replace somewhere in the near future.
Room for Improvement
Finding a home that meets your budget and hits all the items on your wish list is as rare as winning the lottery. Be on the look out for a house that hits some of your home must-haves and theorize what you could do to make that home better.
Is there room for an addition? Where does the lot line end? Is that wall load-bearing? Does the backyard have room for a garden, stone patio, etc.? Look for overall good condition and potential rather than marking off every single item on your home checklist.
Accessibility & Floor Plan
The home style you choose should reflect your needs now and in the near future. An NAR study showed that first-time homebuyers plan to stay in their home for 10 years on average, but typically, they sell and buy again in a shorter timeframe. Repeat homebuyers plan to stay in their homes for 15 years on average.
If you’re childless but plan to have children in the next few years, do you want a home with a master bedroom on the main level and the rest of bedrooms on the second floor?
Visualize how many steps it’s going to take you to switch out loads of laundry, carry groceries in from the car, etc. Is a main floor laundry room a must-have? Does a split-level home make you tired just thinking of all the flights of stairs?
Buying a home is an exciting journey with an extensive amount of decisions. Weigh your needs and wants, don’t forget to overlook the “small stuff”, and work with a real estate professional who can guide you through your home search.
To learn more about the homebuying and home financing process, download our free Mortgage 101 Handbook, a great go-to for first-time buyers, or our Upsizing & Downsizing Guide for homeowners looking to purchase again.