House Hunting: Decisions, Decisions, Decisions

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Not everyone makes decisions the same way. Some use a pro and con technique, while others prioritize the items from which they’re trying to choose. Then there are those hardy souls who flip a coin or go with their gut. The last two techniques aren’t recommended when it comes to the biggest investment of your life - buying a home.

House hunting is either feast or famine: Sometimes there are no homes that you like, other times, there may be too many offering exactly what you want. So, how do you “say yes to one and let the other one ride,” as the Lovin’ Spoonful so aptly put it back in 1966? Here are some factors to consider when weighing one choice against the other.

Mortgage Costs and Financial Considerations

One of the biggest mistakes people make when buying a home is assuming your monthly mortgage payment is the only outlay required when owning a home. The cost of homeownership includes more than the payment - sometimes much more. Consider these additional costs:

  • Association, neighborhood or condo fees
  • Electricity, water and other utilities
  • Homeowner’s insurance
  • Repair costs
  • Mortgage insurance
  • Mortgage payments
  • Property taxes
  • Maintenance, such as landscaping, pool service, etc.

Compare the real costs of owning the houses in question. One may just price itself out of the decision making process.

The Basics: Location, Structure and Design

Think back to when you first decided to purchase a home. Location was probably your biggest concern, aside from price. Over the course of house hunting, many folks compromise on items such as location, veering away from their original intent. Compare the locations of the houses in question. Which one fits your original intent? Are you compromising on location when you don’t have to? Go over this list and remind yourself of which aspects of location are most important to you:

  • Commuting distance
  • Future development projects
  • Local crime
  • Local economy
  • Neighborhood age and cleanliness
  • Neighborhood traffic noise
  • Property values
  • Proximity to shops, hospitals and schools
  • Nearby features that may drag down property values, such as a landfill

The structural integrity of the house is extremely important when you choose a home. A home may seem beautiful, but if it isn’t built well, home maintenance costs could cripple a new owner’s finances. Here’s another opportunity to compare houses. Which one is more structurally sound?

Something has equally attracted you to more than one home, and typically, that something is design. What design elements do the two homes have in common, and which house presents those elements better? Look at the floor plans and picture yourself using them. Is one more functional than the other? Are there odd shaped rooms that may end up driving you crazy?

Don’t Go Changin’...

Still stuck? Ask yourself what you would change about each house, if finances were not a consideration. Allow your imagination free reign on this one and you may find that one house edges out the other.

While it’s not advisable to go with your gut or flip a coin when deciding which house to buy, in the end, it may come down to emotion. On one level you’re making an investment decision - but you’re also deciding on a home. When all the priorities are examined, and all the pros and cons of each choice are considered, whether or not a house feels like home is an important consideration.


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Joyce Godwin, Realtor, CRS
RE/MAX Elite Properties; Serving Cypress, Spring, Tomball, NW Houston - Houston, TX
RE/MAX Elite Properties

Hi Eric, Sounds like some of the things mentioned for the website scheduled to start in February 2012.

Dec 09, 2011 11:53 AM #1
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Eric Proulx

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