When to Pass on a Home & When to Compromise

When you’re house hunting, it’s easy to envision your dream home early on. But after you’ve made your way through many houses, it’s common to realize that you may have to make some compromises. So how do you decide when to compromise and when to pass on a home? Here are some factors you should consider.house-hunters.jpg

Pass if the location is too out of the way for your needs, but compromise if the market’s tight.

In notoriously tight markets such as New York and the San Francisco Bay area, settling for a less-than-ideal location is often a compromise you’ll have to make if you want to live in the city proper or be reasonably close to public transportation that will take you right into the city.

Factoring in how close your home is to your current job is important, but you should also consider other factors in your choice of neighborhood. What about schools? The proximity to shopping, houses of worship and services that you rely on? Are you close enough to warrant this home’s price, or, are these amenities a reasonable distance away if you need to compromise on the price? A tight market will make compromising on location more probable, but if that isn’t the case, keep looking.

Pass if the home isn’t in move-in condition, but compromise if the home is everything you dreamed of but needs minor work.

Except for the location and age of your home, almost anything can be changed about it. If you love everything about your prospective home’s location, proximity to amenities, size, storage space and other aspects, but the place is coated in hideous wallpaper? It’s easy enough to get painters in there to fix it up to your liking before you move in.

But if the home needs extensive renovations that would significantly delay your moving in and/or exceeds your budget, you should pass if you don’t anticipate having the funds and mental energy to arrange these renovations and get all the right permits.

Pass if the home is too high-maintenance, but compromise if you anticipate having the time and money to handle all or some of it.

A home with a pool sounds fantastic until you see how much work it is to maintain one. The larger the home and grounds, the more it will cost, over time, to maintain these things in terms of your time or hiring services. If you don’t want to pay much more than your basic housing expenses, such as a mortgage, property taxes and utilities, then you should give high-maintenance homes a hard pass. If you like the idea of spending time outdoors, though, with a lawnmower and pruning shears, compromise based on the level of maintenance your new home will require.

Knowing when to compromise is ultimately up to you. But you should know your hard limits in terms of budget, handyman sensibilities and ongoing maintenance.


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