There is always some level of compromise that comes with buying a home — plus a lot of research and work before even starting the process. Complicating matters is the fact that TV channels, such as HGTV, make it seem like buying property is simple. There is so much that goes into buying a home that it’s easy to overlook something, make mistakes, and end up with regrets.
Maybe the color of the house isn’t quite to your liking, but the fenced-in yard is just what you’re looking for. Or perhaps the property doesn’t have those stainless steel appliances, but the bathrooms were recently updated. Unless you’re building your own home, chances are you’ll have to make compromises somewhere.
Although compromise is part of buying a home, Scott McGillivray, the star of HGTV’s Income Property, told The Cheat Sheet there are times when compromising is out of the question. Here are seven of them, including one that should never come close to entering your mind.
First, let’s talk about location …
7. The location
McGillivray, who also partners with Owners.com (an online real estate brokerage that offers buyers in some markets a buyers rebate at closing), cautions buyers not to be swayed by the amenities of a house if it’s not in your preferred location. The restaurant-style range hood above the stove and stainless steel appliances might be just what you want, but if it means you have to drive an extra 45 minutes to work every day is it worth it?
“You can always renovate your home, but you can’t just pick up the property and move it where you want,” McGillivray told The Cheat Sheet. “It’s best if you’re certain of the location and the place you want to be.”
Real estate agent Sarah Garza shares a similar sentiment. “Sometimes buyers fall in love with all the shiny bells and whistles of a house that’s an hour away from work and want to compromise on what they’ve told me from the beginning,” Garza tells Realtor.com. “I tell them, ‘I know it doesn’t matter right now because you really love this house, but that’s two hours every day that you’ll be sitting in the car and not enjoying your house. Is that worth it to you?’”
Next: Think about employment opportunities.
6. The job market
To be able to afford that home you’re going to need a job. If you don’t have one already, then you need to make sure your prospective house is close to an active job market. Otherwise, you might not be in that house very long. It might seem relatively unimportant, but it’s something you shouldn’t compromise on — not only for your sake now but for the sake of resale value.
“I’ve been buying a lot of property in Buffalo,” McGillivray says. “It wasn’t a hot spot before, but it is now because Tesla has a plant there.” In short, an active job market can positively influence the real estate market. You should think twice about compromising by buying a great house in a lackluster job market.
Next: Does your vehicle have a home?
5. The parking situation
The house is beautiful. It has new windows, a nice deck, a beautiful yard, and an updated kitchen. It also has a one-car garage. If you’re a two-car household, that’s something you need to consider. How willing are you to move the cars around on a winter morning? Can you easily park on the street? The amount of space for your vehicles is something to consider.
“There are many communities that now restrict outside parking, guest spaces, and overnight parking, which could be a real homeowner nightmare if you have to fend for yourself,” real estate agent Tina Maraj tells Realtor.com.
Next: Realize you don’t know it all.
4. Taking help from others
Prospective homebuyers have a wealth of information at their fingertips thanks to the Internet. It’s both a blessing and a curse, says McGillivray. The good is you can go into the process of buying a home informed and ready for anything. The downside is you might think you know so much that you don’t need input from anyone else. That’s a big no-no, according to McGillivray.
“Homebuyers can do a ton of research, which is great, but you need to have someone knowledgeable,” McGillivray says. “Local contractors know who to hire and where to get materials, and agents know not only how to access the data but also translate the data that’s available. Never underestimate working with a local professional.”
Next: Consider the classroom situation.
3. Access to education
Regardless of whether you have children, moving to an area with good schools is absolutely something you should not compromise on when buying a home. The quality of the schools is one of the most important things most homebuyers look for, and it should be for you, too.
“Whether you’re purchasing a home as an investment or as the place you’re going to live, you want the same thing — for the property value to go up,” McGillivray says. “Good schools are one thing that will help maintain the value of your property.”
Next: You have to love your surroundings.
2. Neighbors and neighborhood
Are the homes near the house you’re interested in well-kept? Or could they be the setting for a post-apocalyptic movie? Are the people friendly, or are they somewhat gruff? “You can’t change the house in front of you or to the side of you,” Maraj tells Realtor.com. “And if there’s a barking dog every time you’re viewing the property, that’s another thing that you absolutely cannot change.”
The neighbors and the neighborhood can impact resale value no matter how much money you spend on improvements. If you get a bad vibe, it’s a bad idea to move forward on that particular home. It’s sound advice, but there is still one more thing on which you should never compromise.
Next: The most important item of all
1. Never compromise on the price
If you’re buying a home, you should be pre-approved for financing before anything else. You should also have a firm price ceiling in place, and you should never deviate from that no matter how tempted you are. Going even a little bit out of your price range is a bad idea.
“You should never buy more house than you can afford,” McGillivray says. “People who go for a home just outside their price range because it’s their dream house are going to suffer in their quality of life because they can’t actually afford to live there, and they’re going to have to make some sacrifices.”
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