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How To Shop For a House

When I was younger, my friends and I would always read the section of Glamour magazine called Glamour Dos and Don’ts, and we were always discovering that something we thought was a good fashion choice was inadvertently backfiring. As an homage to my favorite Glamour column, I’m going to talk about some Dos and Don’ts of house shopping, little adjustments everyone can "do" to make the process go more smoothly.

First, the Don'ts...

Don’t Focus on Minutiae

No house is perfect, and it is self-defeating to preoccupy yourself with little flaws that can easily be fixed. That crack in the garage window…the bathroom cabinet that doesn’t seem to latch properly…if these are the things you’re paying most attention to, you will never buy a house. 

Don’t Play Inspector

In addition to not sweating the small stuff, don’t let bigger imperfections deter you from a house that checks all the boxes until you speak to a home inspector. I know from over 20 years of experience that most repairs and renovations are not such a big deal in the grand scheme of things. I will flag the things that you will want to bring up in an inspection to determine whether a “problem” is necessarily a “dealbreaker”.

Here are some Do’s that are worth remembering:

Do Focus on the Things You Value

Do you feel good about the town, the neighborhood, the way the house sits on the site? Does the size feel right? The proximity to other houses? These are things you cannot change.

Do Check a Map

I’ve had clients spend a long time driving to a listing only to realize that the house is too close to the highway. Or it’s not walkable to the nearest school. These are things you can discover through Google Maps and it will make your touring trips much more efficient.

Do Imagine How You Would Use the Space

"Can I see myself here?” type of envisioning proves to be an extremely effective tool for really determining for yourself what’s important to you – and what’s not.

My last piece of advice might be the best, especially in a competitive market:

Do Take Advantage of Imperfection 

Find a house that’s been sitting on the market for a while, figure out why, and ask yourself: "Could I live with (or fix) this imperfection?" Maybe it wouldn’t matter to you to live on a very busy corner, or to have no door straight out to the backyard, or to be next to the train tracks. Maybe the wallpaper is turning everyone off. If the wallpaper bothers everyone else but it doesn’t bother you, you may be able to scoop up a house no matter what the market conditions. 

If you’re looking for someone to guide you through this journey, please reach out. I love talking about houses and how they can become homes. Talk or text: 973-809-5277

photo: Ted Hardin

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