I have a few people in my life right now who are on the house hunt, which got me thinking about when we bought our current home two years ago. At the time, our youngest child was getting married, and we were drastically downsizing to start our life as empty nesters. We had been trying to sell our home at the time in a market that was dead for anything that was above the average price range, and all of the sudden we received two offers in one week, when our house wasn’t even on the market and we were planning a wedding! We had to move fast.
I believe we all have our deal breakers of what makes the house right for us, like it HAS TO BE one story, or two story. It HAS TO have a space for a home office, or provide a fenced-in yard for a pet, or it has to be this or that. The good part about houses is most of our lists of what we want could be quite long, but there are very few houses that have to have everything you want up front, but thanks to renovation you can still have it all. Changing things is something I’ve never been afraid of, and if you want to have everything you need, you have to first know what that is. So I’ve come up with a few questions to ask yourself to discover what it is your heart really requires:
What is it about your current home that works for you or does not? Think of daily tasks and whatever area ends up being the messiest and most chaotic, is a clue that you need something different, and could help you ponder some desires for your home. Also pay attention to your pet-peeves, they annoy you for a reason and with a house (easier than a person) you can fix them!
Who lives there and what are your needs? This might include; handicap accessibility, main floor master, multiple bedrooms, mother-in-law quarters, home office, larger garage, workspace, places for animals, playroom, etc.
How do you prefer to live in your home? Do you entertain a lot, travel a bit, cook every night, tend to be messy, tend to be a neat freak, or work too much to hang there much? All these answers can give you clues to what you need or can create to suit your lifestyle. Write all of this down and study the answers to get to know yourself a bit. It might be helpful to interview other family members who will live there as well and get their ideas.
Here is my list of MUST-HAVES, dealbreakers, and gotta haves.
Good location – Talk to any real estate agent and they will tell you it’s all about location, location, and location. For me this is always true because chances are, I’m not going to live there too long and resale is very important. Our real estate has always been an important part of our investments, so I would much rather have the ugliest or smallest house in the neighborhood because I plan to change all that anyway and I will have greater upside later. I also figure into the mix how big the upside could be for the location so I do not over-improve. Return on investment is important.
Entry and hallways – This is one of my personal pet peeves that guide me to say yay or no on a house. An entry can be established with creative space planning, but hallways are tough to change throughout an overall house. I grew up in a house with a nice formal entry and a bit more spacious upper hallway for a nice middle class home, so I’m guessing my obsession about this stems from that. But I just can’t deal with closed in, narrow hallways, and entry ways that have you hitting the staircase with your butt the moment you step into them.
Storage possibilities – I will admit, I have a lot of stuff and I like to organize. Although I don’t need storage immediately obvious when walking into a house, I am always going to need space somewhere to store certain things that keep the rest of the house flowing and living properly. To me, if you’ve got this down right, then your house never has to be complete chaos. Now storage needs are relative, but whether I’m living in 7,000 square feet (past) or 2,500 square feet (current) to 1,000 square feet (I’m sure sometime in our future) I will always have a bit of stuff that needs to be put away.
Nothing brand new – What I mean by this is that I would never buy a home where the kitchen was just redone or the carpet is brand new, unless it is exactly the way I want it. I tend to be a thrifty person and my better sensibilities would never allow me to rip out something perfectly new just because I didn’t like it, but that’s exactly what would have to happen. I’m certainly not opposed to improvements, but if they aren’t what I need or like, I’d rather make them myself.