Sometimes you are driving down the road and see a home that screams out to you, “Come in, you will love me.” Maybe it’s for sale, maybe it’s not. And it turns out to be your dream house. But more often than not, you will have to search and make tough decisions about the pros and cons of different homes. You might have to do a risk reward analysis of differing homes. Our job here is to help you figure out what is important to you in a property.
Are your children small? Do you need a yard for whiffle ball, or to toss a frisbee or football? Do you have plans eventually for a pool or backyard gym? You may need to look at an area where the lots are a bit larger than some other areas. The downsides to large lots are twofold:
- You may not be able to afford as much of a house that sits on that larger lot. Or, you may be buying more of a fixer upper than you had anticipated.
- You might be (probably will be) paying more property taxes for all that land.
The upside of a larger parcel is you may be able to buy a property that will allow you to expand as time and money allows. As your family grows or your needs change, you perhaps can add a family room blown out the back of the house, or maybe a detached studio with a loft for when guests visit. Keep in mind that while a larger lot allows for privacy and attractiveness, all that land costs a lot more money to landscape and maintain.
Another consideration when talking about the lot your new home sits on will be in which direction the front exposure of the house is, and where the home sits on the lot. Do you want morning sun in the kitchen; do you prefer to watch the sun go down from your front porch. In some locales, it gets substantially chillier once the sun sets. If your house faces east and you lose the sun over the peak of the roof at 4 pm, are you going to be freezing when you are having your cigar and cognac at night? Another issue where the home sits on the lot is it is certainly stately having a house set way back off the road and you will gain privacy and noise insulation but at the cost of your backyard.
The following are characteristics of different rooms; you will have to decide whether these features fit into your budget.
More and more, buyers are needing a true master suite. A full and luxurious bathroom in the bedroom is often a must have, a walk-in closet (or two) and sometimes even a walkout deck to view a sunrise or sunset. A lot of buyers we talk to also want to keep their room between the children’s room and the top of the stairs.
Organization and design rule in this room. Cabinet space and workspace are the two main attributes in a kitchen. A good mix of both with enough seating and plenty of natural light is the key. Another feature our buyers find important is the proximity of the family room to the kitchen, especially when the kids are small. When dinner is being prepared, it’s always nice to have an eye and not just ears on the little ones.
Do you even need one, only you can answer. If you will be bummed out always going to your mother in laws on the holidays best budget for one. If you must have a formal dining room, make sure it is large enough for the set you will want to buy or the one you bring.
This room is more about seating and deciding what you will do in here for entertainment. Most families want a media center of some sort and the room might use that as the focal point. Make sure you will be able to fit the furniture you need to seat your family and guests comfortably. A lot of people want to have an outside entrance to the backyard or a deck in this room. Do you?
Most older homes have the laundry in the basement while new construction homes seem to be putting the laundry room on the second floor within a few steps of the bedrooms, a nice feature for sure. Will you be ok running baskets up and down the stairs like we (and our moms did) or will you require a laundry next to the bedrooms?
Often the half bath on the main floor is the only bath on the first level. Make sure that yours will be easily accessible from the main rooms of the house. It is truly a bonus if it is situated near the back entrance for when the kids are playing in the yard or pool.
In Northern locales like here, we find it advantageous to have an attached garage with two stalls. One for safety, as one doesn’t need to go outside to enter the home after pulling in the garage. Two, when the weather is cold, it really is nice to not have to scrape a windshield on frigid mornings.
Storage, layouts, and cosmetics.
It’s fairly obvious that more storage is better. But where and at what cost? Most homes have an attic or a basement for storage. Is it dry, warm enough and easily accessible? Do not discount closet space. When walking through a home consider what items will be stored in the room you are in. Where do brooms and mops go? What about vacuum cleaners, ironing boards, games, and toys. To avoid clutter, which is the bane of a tidy home, this stuff all needs to go somewhere. One space often overlooked is an over the garage storage area (if the garage is attached). A lot can go here, and sometimes it’s as easy as putting a cheap plywood floor in and putting in pull down stairs.
Layouts, well beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Many people look for the ubiquitous open floorplan these days. And they are attractive, provide nice sight lines throughout the house and often give more livable space to each area. What we will suggest with respect to open floorplans is that you should make sure the home is big enough to have an open plan. Because if it isn’t, the problem then is you can’t get away from anyone or anything that they are doing. You can’t escape your son’s television or daughter’s cello practice if there is only one big open room in a house.
Lastly, sometimes it is difficult to picture yourself in a home with shag carpets or wood paneling or textured stucco walls. Our advice to you is doing your best to realize that anything that’s not to your taste is usually pretty cheap to fix. Cosmetic stuff, painting, sheetrock, even flooring can be changed out with not a big ding to your budget. If the space, location, and functionality of a home fits your needs, don’t worry about having to do a bit of work to it.