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23 Aug 2013
Is there a secret to buying a home? I think there is. It’s something that I have been observing in buyers for over three decades, and I realized that the conversations that I have been having with hundreds of buyers have included a very important element. I’m not suggesting there is only one secret or a single key or magic wand that will answer all your questions about which home to buy. Life is not that simple, and neither is buying real estate, but there is one thing that can give you the experience of hundreds of buyers just like you, and I thought I would share that today.
I’m assuming that you’ve searched online and looked at many homes and as you searched, you narrowed your search parameters so you would get a better list of potential homes based on your personal preferences. You should narrow the list to a short list of 6 to 12 homes. Once you have your short list of homes to view, how do you filter and sort those mentally and emotionally so you can narrow that down to “The One?” I think you’ll find this to be a valid secret to buying a home.
Here it is. You and your spouse should be discussing the homes with your real estate agent as you look at the homes. You should discuss the good features, the best features, and the negatives or the less attractive features of the homes. At the end of the day, you should have a conversation about all of the homes, review again the positives and negatives, but here is where the value is in this conversation, or what I’m calling the secret to buying a home. Of course you want to talk about the exciting features, the positives, but it’s not the positive features that help you filter your list from several homes to only one. The positive features keep homes on the list. It’s the negative features that will help you filter and eliminate the homes you should not buy.
The negative features a home does have are what you must pay attention to. If you bring up a bad feature or something that could be a problem, don’t let your Realtor brush it off or diminish the effect it may have. Some Realtors will downplay a potential problem or suggest something simple you could do to overcome it. That will not help you. My suggestion that has helped hundreds of buyers is not to avoid the problem or diminish it, but to embrace it in the conversation. Talk about it, and talk about how bad it could be.
If there is a potential drainage problem on the property, talk about the implications. If there the house is very old, talk about the implications of old wiring in the walls and the potential fire hazard that might present. How much would it cost to completely re-wire the home? Would it be worth it? What about plumbing? If the home has a roof that may need to be replaced, discuss the full costs of a new composition shingle roof or whatever type of roof it is. If one house is new and is in perfect condition and is move-in ready, and another house is a 1968 home that needs substantial upgrades and remodeling, compare apples with apples by adding the costs of all the improvements in the one home with the one that is move-in ready. You might find the newer home is less expensive and comes with a lot less stress and less uncertainty. In other words, don’t avoid problems and end up with a nightmare later. Flush them out now, and intelligently discuss the pros and cons for each house.
Believe it or not, when you go through this process with each other and with your real estate agent, you will find the question of which home to buy answers itself, and you will be comfortable with the answer. You end up with one home left on your list. And you look at each other and just smile. For hundreds of buyers this really has been the secret to buying a home.
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