KEEP IN MIND THE FOLLOWING WHEN BUYING A HOME: The lower the amount of research and thought that goes into buying decisions and the greater the emotional impulse that rules decisions, the more regret that results.
That’s the reality of home buying. There will be regrets if you dont invest the right amount if research. Hopefully, they’ll be no regrets, but if there are any you can learn to live happily with them.
One major difference in home buying is the support and expertise of real estate professionals who can reduce regret when buyers take advantage of this professional edge.
Today I want to concentrate on purchases where everything is completely fine with the house, townhome, condominium unit, or recreational property—legally and structurally. Even when all is well, buyers may have regrets about how a home functions for them and their family.
Buyers become owners once they move in and live in their new residence—an obvious fact, but a shift in perspective that many buyers seem to ignore. New owners will discover things about a home that they may not have realized during their “purchaser’s viewing” many weeks or months before—especially in a cleverly-staged property:
- New owners may decide their home feels too small, too large, too expensive, too far from work…too something that becomes obvious after living there a while. Sometimes there are acceptable solutions; sometimes there are very pleasant surprises; sometimes there are only regrets.
- Alternatively, the home may lack something buyers assumed would be there or they had expected to be better. For instance, front hall or foyer closets are often overlooked during viewing. After move-in, all the family “stuff” that must go in that closet may not fit. The same can be true for functionality of the back entrance. In either case, sometimes adding storage or completing a small renovation solves the problem. Other times, buyers must live with regrets.
Savvy buyers can consciously turn the potential for regret into “Buyer BE AWARE!”
- When you’ve spent a few hundred dollars on shoes or several thousand on a car, regrets hurt and frustrate, but you’ll bounce back on your next purchase. With each of many purchases, you learn more about what you are paying for and what works for you.
- In real estate, the bounce back may be harder. The purchase usually involves hundreds of thousands of dollars. Many people only make three or four home changes in a lifetime. Since these moves may be decades apart, what buyers learn is forgotten or no longer relevant when the next purchase rolls around.
Don’t get discouraged. Home buyers have many resources to call on to minimize the number of regrets regarding home functionality and to reduce the negative effect on daily living:
Consider a property for its functionality, not just its decor. Staging shifts the emphasis away from design flaws and on to superficial decor. Don’t just stand in a room’s doorway “oo-ing” at the yummy furnishings. Step in and try the room out. Before you start looking at properties, create a Key Functions Checklist (on paper or on your phone) of three to five key functions your family expects to carry out in each room or section of the home over the four seasons. Then, while viewing, physically or mentally walk through the details to check for fit. With a written checklist, this is simple to keep track of. Comparing properties based on functionality becomes easier.
Design flaws may not stop a purchase, but they may impact purchase price. When viewing a listing, concentrate on visualizing what it would be like to live there with your family and furniture. For each room, consider projecting your Key Functions Checklist a step further. Quickly assess the potential for affordable, practical solutions to shortcomings. After the viewing, sort out the details and decide which deficiencies matter and which can be overlooked. Call on contractors or interior designers for clever professional solutions for more involved issues. Create lists of what must be dealt with before you move in and then within the first year. If there is only one area of the home that falls short, lifestyle changes or minor remodelling may reduce the issues to manageable.
Location and “the immovable object”. The one thing about a home that cannot be changed or “renovated” is its location. If you are considering an area further away from work, avoid assumptions about commute time. Drive the distance or take public transit a few times. Talk to commuters to learn the greatest inconveniences and other practical realities. Expect commute times to increase. Talk to real estate professionals with experience in your desired locations to learn about available transportation alternatives.
Invest time and effort in selecting the best real estate professional to help you achieve your regret-minimized home purchase. The transportation example in the previous bullet reveals how to accomplish two research goals at once. Do the work to make sure the professional’s knowledge and expertise are put to good use heading off regret.