People instinctively know they need to try on clothes to be sure they fit, feel comfortable and are attractive on them. What about a home? It’s probably the most expensive purchase you’ll ever make. Isn’t it even more important to “try on” a home before you purchase it?
What on earth do I mean? Well, it’s usual to look for a home in places that are convenient to work and schools. Most folks take the daily commute into consideration when shopping for a home. Why not take the daily, weekly, and even monthly activities of family members consciously into account, too?
Here's what to consider when you look to see if a home fits for you:
1. Do you like the layout of the house? I once bought a house because I liked the breakfast nook (it was a separate small space), but when I moved it, I absolutely HATED it. The space was difficult to decorate, and there wasn't enough room for a good sized table. What looked great in an empty "spec" home was a pain when I tried to incorporate it into my lifestyle. I have not contemplated how I would use it.
2. Think about how you live. If you have a home office that you use daily, and the only space for that is upstairs, you'll be worn out going up and down stairs all day. If you entertain a lot, look for open spaces. Truly think about your day to day. Is there room for the pets, will you have enough closet space, do you have a lot of friends visiting, etc.
3. Visit the neighborhood on a weekend. Is it what you imagined? If you see lots of kids playing in the street are you bummed out, or excited?
4. Go to the nearest grocery store. You obviously have already figured out that the commute to work is acceptable to you, but what about the commute to shopping. Will you go out for milk and not return for an hour because the store is so far from your home?
While in the grocery store, look around. These are your neighbors and this is where you're going to spend hours each week. You can tell a lot about an area based on the grocery store. Look for a light and bright store with friendly staff. If you're in a dingy store with empty aisles and expired food labels, I can promise you that you're probably in a neighborhood that's not doing well and your home value may reflect this.
5. As part of your due diligence, or even before you put in the offer, knock on the neighbor's door and ask them what the story is on the neighborhood. You get to see if your neighbors are friendly, and you will probably get a good bit of insight into the neighborhood too.
6. When you are viewing the listing, walk outside, take a breath and close your eyes. Reset your mind. Now come back into the house, except this time don't look at the items in the house. Picture yourself living here. What would you do with that small kitchen? If there's no baths and you like to bathe, will you be OK to change your lifestyle?
In today's tough seller's market, it pays to know the answer to some of these questions now, so that when a great home comes on the market you can pounce.