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Homebuyer Priorities: Focus on the Things You Can’t Change

As a home buyer, you will have many things on your list of wants and needs – big rooms, chef’s kitchen, big yard, and granite. Often, these things consume our minds when making choices for our home purchase. However, I am here to tell you to think bigger than that. When you are searching for a home, you will be making choices, trade offs and compromises. Be sure to be mindful of the bigger picture.
One thing to be aware of is that not all features are equal, especially in terms of their permanence. Everybody wants granite these days, but you can put granite in a home. But some things are permanent…or near permanent. Things like neighborhood, schools, room count, and lot size are not so easily changeable – if at all. Features you can’t change deserve special consideration. In your search, emphasize the importance of the things you cannot change and be more flexible on features you can.

Now, this isn’t always obvious. Many of the things you see when you look at homes, and most buyers get excited about, are things you can change. Think kitchens, baths, landscaping and style. Buyers will generally get an overall sense of a house and rate it. That one was nice; I liked it better than the first three. But are you giving fair weight to the aspects that affect that home and your satisfaction for years to come? Are you really thinking about what life will be like in that home – both short and long term?

Judging how well you like each home in a visit or two may be too simple of an approach. Granite can be installed, but neighborhoods can rarely be saved. It is a bit overwhelming to track all of this, but you can be mindful in how you view homes and how you feel about a home. Allow your judgment to be swayed by the presence of important, unchangeable features and be able to discount the qualities that could be corrected. To give you a better idea of what to look at and think about – take a look at the lists below.

Cannot be changed…
• Location
• Lot size
• Room size
• Neighborhood
• Neighbors
• Schools
• Bonds
• Assessment
• # of beds and baths (ok, but hard & expensive)

Can be changed…
• Style
• Windows
• Kitchen and baths
• Carpet
• Linoleum
• Landscaping
• Counters
• Sinks
• Plumbing fixtures
• Light fixtures

The goal here is to expand your thinking when shopping. Be sure to include the bigger picture when rating a home. In the end, you will make compromises. Don’t feel bad, even the million dollar luxury buyers have to make compromises… just different compromises. But as you make your choices, bear in mind that some things can be changed later, while others can’t. Don’t let this discourage you, instead arm yourself with the necessary information, and find a home you feel great about and will be happy with for many years to come.

4 Comments to “Homebuyer Priorities: Focus on the Things You Can’t Change”

  1. Love your article Bill. Some really helpful tips. I like how you mentioned to consider things that you cannot change. I always recommend to have a plumber check out fixtures and elimination systems before buying. These are quite expensive fixes if they are in need of repair. It’s amazing what a trained eye can pick out. After all, the goal is to only invest on the appearance or things you “want” to change in a house.
    George Stanley recently posted…WelcomeMy Profile

  2. As someone who’s been house shopping for our “forever home” for the last 2 years, I can definitely take these tips to heart. The downside to focusing on things that cannot be changed, specifically lot size, location, etc, is you will feel like you’re constantly missing out on some great places, but that is because you may be attracted to the look of a house and in your mind reducing the importance of the land or location of the house, which is the one that that you can never change (without moving). So our search continues. recently posted…Leaky Faucets in Gresham? We’ll fix itMy Profile

  3. Great tips. I am actually planning to buy a House since last month but was so much confused about buying priorities . your article is very helpful to solve my confusions.
    Thanks for the article.
    Linda Green recently posted…9 Tips to Increase Property Value of Your Flats?My Profile

  4. I would add a couple of other things such as the nearness to highway, nearness to stores/hospitals etc to the list of things that cannot be changed.
    Jack Stephan recently posted…Mountain Home Public Schools: Four MythsMy Profile

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