Buying a new home is very exciting, especially if it’s your first time. It’s a moment you’ve dreamed about since you could draw your dream castle. Many people start their search by going from show home to show home picturing how they might live in each masterfully created space. The finishings and furnishings in the showhomes are so pretty, and fit so perfectly, it’s easy to picture yourself living there, even if it’s not the ideal home for you.
We know that these show homes are professionally put together and staged to look amazing. New buyers can often get caught up in the emotion only to realize later they made a few mistakes. It is difficult to imagine, but at some point you are going to have to sell the home you decide to buy, so make sure the features you select are popular with other buyers.Don’t get caught making decisions that are based solely on your current perspective and lifestyle. Will the home still meet your needs 5 years down the road? This is where the advice of a good REALTOR® can be invaluable as they work with buyers of all types on a regular basis, and see homes differently than you do. They can point out the pro’s and con’s of different floor plans and styles. Remember, the sales staff in a show home works for the builder, your REALTOR® works for you.
So once you’ve found “the one” take a step back and consider these tips:
- Storage space – take an inventory of your belongings and figure out where they will go in the new home. If you can fill all the space now, you probably won’t have storage space enough in a couple of years. Is there a pantry? Enough cupboards? A linen closet? Are the closets big enough? Do the bathroom vanities have drawers (men don’t ask, just nod your head and pretend you know what I’m talking about)? Is the garage big enough to hold your vehicles and other stuff? A young couple can easily have triple their current belongings in a few years.
- Does the kitchen have enough counter top workspace? If you’re not sure or don’t like to cook, bring a friend along that does like to cook and see what they think. The kitchen is one of the most important features when it comes time to sell.
- Location, location, location. What does your new home front and back onto? You can change colours and flooring and cabinets and countertops but you cannot change the location of the home. What is going to go in that big, open field across the street? Will 5 stories of balconies be looking in on your backyard? Will you be able to hear the “clean up in aisle 6” announcements from the Costco across the street?
- Know the specs – it’s easy to get wowed by granite countertops and hardwood floors, while insulation and rebar are definitely more important and less exciting. We tend to make decisions based on what we see, and unless you’re an expert in construction you probably won’t notice the behind-the-scenes materials and craftsmanship. Builders know this and in order to remain competitive on price they may build to the minimum specs, and upgrade the finishings to the nines. There are some visual cues that will give you an indication of the level of specs for any given home:
- Is the driveway the full width of the garage, or just the garage door?
- Are the front steps wooden or concrete?
- Are the studs in the basement wooden or steel?
- Is the wiring at the electrical panel neat and tidy or a big jumble of wires?
You can look at hundreds of homes before you decide on the right one for you, but if you don’t know what to look for, will you make the right choice? A professional can help make the right choice, an easy decision.
*Sheldon wrote this article for the Edmonton Sun Homes-Extra Section on Sep. 1/12.