How to Buy a House | Part 3 – Start Shopping

April 21, 2019

Hey, everyone. It’s Andrea Lutz, and I’m here today to talk to you about buying a house.

Once you get your pre-approval and you find a great realtor, you’re up to the really fun part. You have to go out there and go shopping. That is my favorite part, and that’s why I like being a realtor because I get to go out there and shop with other folks and actually spend their money a bit. So I’m going to talk to you about things that you need to keep in mind when you’re shopping for your home. And this is true no matter how old you are or how many times you’ve bought a home. You always want to kind of orient yourself in the right way when you’re thinking about this. People can get kind of sucked in just looking at the wall coverings and the carpet and, you know, what’s the siding like? Well, keep in mind that that stuff can all be changed.

When you’re thinking about where you want to live and what you want your house to look like, really the best thing to do is to pull all that back and really start from base one. Think about what’s important to you in a home, what’s your lifestyle like, what kind of things do you really need versus what do you want? Now those lists can be very different. And it does help a little bit to prioritize that list.

So everyone is like, “Well, I want four bedrooms, I want three bathrooms.” Well what do you really need? If you only need three bedrooms, maybe that fourth bedroom was going to be an office for you, it could be an extra space in the basement. To give your realtor the best chance of finding you your perfect home, you want to give them the needs list, and then tell them, “Oh and by the way, I also would kind of like these things.” But you have to know, you’re probably not going to get all of them. So if you need three bedrooms, two baths, and you need it in a certain school district, that’s great. Start there and then you can kind of see, “Okay well this house has two of my wants, a kitchen island and a fenced backyard. But it doesn’t have a separate laundry room.” But you know, you’re going to have to play that game a little bit with yourself, figure out which of those things are more important. Now if a laundry room is absolutely critical, you have to move that over to your needs list, and/or it has to be moved over to the number one spot on your wants.

So once you kind of have that list figured out and you kind of know definitely what you’re looking for, think about other things, like, what is my lifestyle like? Do I host a lot? Do I have people over a lot? If you have a lot of people over, you want to have a good place to do that. Maybe that means a great backyard with a big deck and a barbecue area. Maybe that means a big dining room table. Maybe that means a huge kitchen where everybody can come in while you’re cooking your dinners. So think about those sorts of things.

Also think about, do I have any hobbies that take up space, or that need special conditions? If you’re a photographer, you want a dark room, right? You don’t want this big huge south facing room with all that light. You need an interior room to do that process. If you play the piano or you’re a musician, you need special space for those instruments. For me personally, I’m a gardener and I love gardening, and you don’t always think about that stuff. You go into a house and you’re like, “I love this house, it’s amazing. I totally want to buy it.” And then you find out it’s under a bunch of trees and it’s north facing and you could never grow anything there, which would be a major, major crusher for me.

So, kind of this about all those things and, before you go out shopping and before you get really emotional about one of those houses, write all of that stuff down. If you’re shopping with somebody else, sit down and just have those conversations with them, and come to terms on what things you’re willing to compromise versus what they’re willing to compromise on. That will really help you decide which houses are actually going to be worthwhile. Also, think about, do I have any pets? I mean, that’s a biggie. If you have three big dogs, you need to have a place for them to run around. Maybe a fenced yard is really critical for you. If you’ve got kids, and even if you don’t, even if you’re never going to use that school system, it plays a big part in what that house is worth, and how easy it will sell in the future. So think about the school system. What school is it in? Go on to Great Schools, see what the ratings are on that school, see what people are saying about it. If it’s a great school, then your house is worth more money whether you have kids or not.

I would also encourage you to do everything you can to look past the cosmetics of the house, which is so hard. People just don’t have an easy time of that, but I can tell you, there are a lot of things that you can change about a house, but you can’t change where it is. So think first and foremost about the location. Is it in a neighborhood I like or in an area I like? Like I said before, make sure the school system is good. Make sure you’re close to the things that you want to be close to, your job or if there’s schools or if you have hobbies, you like to go to the gym. Where is it located in respect to those other things? If it’s going to take you 15 minutes to get to the gym, that’s great, but if it’s an hour and a half to get to work… So kind of look at that full picture and say, “Is this location ideal?”

Now if the location is ideal, pretty much everything else can be managed with the house. But what I like to think about is, what is my level of expertise when it comes to doing remodeling, or patience for that matter. Do I want to do a big remodel? Or do I want to move in and just have nothing to do? In that case, draw the line in the sand. Like I’m really happy doing cosmetic remodeling, but I don’t want to move any walls. I don’t want to do a kitchen remodel. And then you know. You can walk into a house and say, “Dang this location is excellent, and the kitchen is the way I like it and the bathroom is how I like it. Now it does have red paint all over the place, and this really gross green carpet, but I can handle that and I can get that done.” So that’s a really good thing to know as well. And it’s really, really, really easy to get sucked into that carpet or that red wall and just say, “Oh my gosh, I hate it. It’s so dark in here.” But try to use your imagination, try to open up your mind, and think, now if I had this house, what color would I paint it, and how would it feel to me then?

Even then after all of that imagination is turning and you know like, gray walls and tile floors and you’re like, “Yeah, I’m really feeling it.” Even then, it’s a little hard to always see yourself in a space. You’re coming from somewhere where you’re much more comfortable. So try and give yourself some leniency there and just say, “Yeah, I think it has the space where I’m going to be comfortable.” You’re not necessarily just going to fall in love with it, you know? Not everybody is like that. So try to be practical in your reasoning about it.

Big takeaways here: look at the location, not the cosmetics of the house. The location is key and it can’t be changed, but you can do updates. And then think about how you’re going to live in that house, and how it’s oriented to all the other things that you do in your life. If you keep all of that in mind, and you’ve got your needs versus wants, and your priorities right, you’ll have an easy time finding a house that you’ll love.

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Thanks so much, guys. And we’ll see you next time.