This sponsored, biweekly Q&A column is written by Andrew Goodman, broker/owner of Goodman, Realtors. Based in Bethesda, Andrew serves clients in Maryland, D.C., and Northern Virginia. Please submit comments, questions, and opinions in the comments section or via email.
Question: I having been looking for the “right” home for so long and I just can’t find one that fits all of my criteria. What are the main things that I should focus on?
When looking at a property, most people walk in the door and want to get that wow feeling. I completely understand and I hope to see that expression when showing a home.
But that’s not always going to be the case. There are some particular aspects to a home that you should be focused on — and others that you don’t necessarily have to be when determining if a home is right for you.
Floor plan: The floor plan of the home is the most important thing to concentrate on when viewing a home, in my opinion.
If the floor plan doesn’t suit your lifestyle, renovating the home to make it work will be difficult and probably very costly. I use a condo example with my clients to explain what I mean. In D.C., it is typical to find a wide range of condo styles. If you were to compare an 800 square-foot condo to a 650 square-foot condo, most people would assume that the larger condo was the better of the two.
But if the 800 square- foot condo has a long hallway, a small living room or an oddly shaped room, it may not suit your style of living.
Let’s face it: We live in an age of big furniture and flat screen televisions. When looking at a home, you want to see if you can arrange your furniture in the room appropriately.
Not all condos (if we’re sticking with my example) were built to withstand a flat screen TV or large furniture.
But if you saw a 650 square-foot condo with an open floor plan that allowed everything to fit, it may just suit your style of living better.
Another thing to look at is closet space. Most older homes just don’t have enough space to store all of the clothes and shoes we own. The floor plan may or may not allow for more storage or closet space.
Lot/Building: There are certain things you just cannot change with a property. With a single family home or a townhome, you cannot change the lot that the home sits on. In a condo, you can’t change the building that condo is within. You want to make sure the lot or condo building fulfills your needs because you will be stuck with it once purchased.
Cosmetics: Most buyers focus on the cosmetics of the home, whether they’re looking at the kitchen, bathrooms, floors or other parts of the home.
Obviously, you always want to take those cosmetics into consideration, but cosmetics are something that can be changed. Most buyers won’t find a home that meets everything on their cosmetic “wish list.” So a buyer should have at least a little imagination about what they could do to a property to make it his or her own.
A kitchen is something very important to buyers. I have found that most want to personalize their kitchen in some way. The cosmetics of a home, though often costly, can be adjusted.
Utilities: The utilities of the home, such as the furnace and water heater, can all be changed.
What’s key is the setup and location of these utilities, and those may not be worth messing with.
Some buyers want to change their heat from electric to gas or vice versa. Depending on the utilities coming into the home, switching from electric to gas may not be feasible. If it is possible, it may be costly.
The real dilemma is if a buyer wants to change a home from radiant heat to central heat. That involves some serious work and planning that may not be something you want get involved in. To just upgrade the furnace or water heater equipment of a home is not too difficult and not too expensive in relation to a home purchase itself.
When buying a home, make sure to have a wants and needs list.
Determine items that you just cannot live without. If these things aren’t in the home, you will not purchase the home.
The wants list are items that you would love to have in a home. But if those items are not there, you could always personalize the home to make it your own. Please remember, you can change anything with the interior or exterior of a home if allowed by your home owners or condo association. You just have to decide if you are willing to pay for it.