The holidays are over, the SuperBowl and the Oscars are behind us. What is there to look forward to? Yes! Valentine’s Day is here, and you are about to fall in love with your new home.
Valentine’s Day Crush
Your heart pounds as you scroll through hundreds of listings. Too expensive, too small, too far from your job, high monthlies, until, there it is! It looks gigantic, stylishly furnished, light pouring in, cutting edge kitchen, you are sure the bathroom looks great too. But can you afford it? A quick search of online mortgage providers gets you three pre-approval letters at historically low rates. Who knew buying a home could be so easy? You spend the next day at Ikea, picking out your new furniture. You invite your friends and family to the open house so they can see your new digs.
The day of the open house dawns with a cold wintry mix. Who cares? You have your love to keep you warm! The trip to the open house takes longer than expected. Some of your friends and relatives couldn’t find the entrance behind the dry cleaner. There is a lot of traffic noise, but fortunately, the apartment is in the back of the building. As you climb the four flights of stairs, you pass several other home shoppers hurrying down.
As your eyes adjust to the dim light, you notice that the apartment seems smaller than in the photos. There is no furniture. The agent explains that the apartment will look bigger once you put your furniture in. The agent tells you that the apartment is very bright on a sunny day. The rain and the mist from the dry cleaner’s exhaust fan fog the windows. The bathroom has visible mold.
You are heartbroken; your dreams crushed. Why is home hunting so difficult? It is a cruel world. You decide to sign your landlord’s lease for another year.
Don’t let this heartbreak happen to you. It’s fun to flirt with listings and dream about your future home. But before you get too serious, follow these simple tips.
How Can You Mend a Broken Heart?
Look closely at the listing on a Google map and use the tools to see what the immediate area looks like. Look for elements that might affect your quality of life: a busy gas station, an entrance to a bridge or highway, or a tall building that might obstruct views and sunlight. Add 10-15 minutes to the listing’s description of the time to downtown.
Before you look at the photos, look at the apartment dimensions and floor plan if provided (and if not, ask). Be aware of which photos are missing. Five pictures of the lobby and one of the living room is a bad sign. If you don’t see a bathroom or a kitchen photo, there may be a good reason. On the other hand, sometimes, a poorly photographed home may be a good deal. The seller may be in a hurry to move and did not have the time to “style” their home.
Look for tip-offs in the description such as cozy, intimate, great starter home, bring your contractor, cash preferred. Excessive verbiage about the gym and nearby restaurants may mean that there is not much good to say about the apartment. Check or call to see if it is a ground floor or walk-up, when not disclosed in the listing.
Get your feet on the ground before your head gets in the clouds. When you see a listing that fits your requirements in terms of location, price, layout, and size, visit it as soon as possible. Take advantage of open houses so that you thoroughly familiarize yourself with your preferred neighborhoods.
Engage a buyer’s broker and send them listings that you like. They will alert you to listings that look too good to be true. Ask your broker to call and ask the tough questions before you visit.
They say that love is blind and that all is fair in love and war, but if you keep your eyes open and your mind clear as you look at listings, you will be on your way to the home of your dreams. Happy Valentine’s Day!