5 Ways You Should Never Compromise When Buying a Home

Buying a Home in Today's Market is a Challenge

You are rooted in the trenches in your quest for homeownership. The last property you toured had the kitchen of your dreams, but it is too close to the highway. The retirement condo you saw on the internet has everything on your wish list, but the building doesn't have an elevator.

A warning to buyers, especially first-timers, in this market, finding everything you want is rare when there are not many homes to choose from, and properties rarely last a week without an accepted offer. Although you agree that compromise is a given, it's wise to remember that some factors cannot be changed if you discover the deal you made is not working. You don't get an opportunity to test drive a home.

In a recent survey by Trulia, 51 percent of homeowners have regrets about some aspect of their home. It is a given with the lack of inventory and the stiff competition for homes. Circumstances may call for more compromise than you may want from your sacred wish list. There is nothing wrong with being adaptable. However, there are certain things you should never concede if you're going to be among the 49% without buyer's remorse. 

1. Location

The place is one characteristic of a home you can't change or adapt to. You should make sure that the area meets your family's needs now and for the amount of time, you expect to own your home. There are a few factors about the location you should consider. So when you evaluate a street address, ask yourself these questions.

  • How is the school system rated?
  • What is the crime level?
  • Is this a high-traffic street?
  • Will I hear unacceptable levels of noise from the highway?
  • How about the neighbors? Are there signs of neglect? Barking dogs? 
  • Is the work commute acceptable?
  • Are shopping, entertainment, and other necessary services available in the neighborhood?
  • How will the location affect the resale value of my home?

2. Budget

Nearly 63 percent of millennial homebuyers felt remorse because they didn't understand the actual cost of owning a home. When you decide how large of a monthly payment you feel is in your comfort zone after careful consideration, stick with it. Affordability is something you should have determined at the time you were pre-approved. Even if you have some wiggle room between your fixed dollar amount and what the lender will give you, keep in mind unexpected expenses always pop up, and taxes and fees usually rise rather than fall. If you agonize over paying the bills every month, the buyer's regret will soon follow. 

3. The Floor Plan

If one of your needs is an open floor plan, keep in mind that knocking out walls and redesigning the flow of space is an expensive proposition and an option you probably should pass on. Likewise, if you want a ranch with all the living areas on one level, you may have regrets if you compromise and buy a two-story home. If you need three bedrooms, you should not look at two-bedroom homes with no room to expand or consider a one-bath home if you need two bathrooms.

4. Condition of the Home

When you determine that you need a turn-key home at the start, being tempted to buy a fixer-upper could be one of the biggest mistakes you could make. On this one, buyers need to be true to themselves. Don't go there if you lack the finances for a renovation and are not handy with tools.

If the property checks off all the other boxes under needs and wants, and you can finance the remodel, consider other factors. Renovating a home will challenge you both financially and emotionally. Are you the type of person that can deal with the stress of going through months of turmoil and upheaval while the work takes place?  

While considering a home's condition, pay attention to the oversized ticket items that may need replacing sooner than later, like a roof, siding, appliances, heating, and air-conditioning. If you are spending all your cash to buy a home, you may not be financially prepared for an outlay of several thousand dollars for non-discretionary fixes in the first couple of years. 

5. Lifestyle and Personality

By the time you are buying a home, you should know if you are an urban, suburban, or rural personality. It's all about being true to yourself. If you thrive in the hustle and bustle of the city and being close to all, it has to offer in terms of the arts, restaurants, bars, culture, and entertainment, you probably are going to regret that you chose a home in the burbs because of that extra bedroom.

If you are very social, always busy, or travel a great deal, you may want to stay the course on finding the right condo or townhome instead of a single-family home. You may tell yourself a little yard work and home maintenance shouldn't take up that much of your time but, it may cause you to be resentful and deeply regret your decision in a relatively short period of ownership.

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