Last night my husband I looked at our 50th house since our home-buying odyssey began. I knew the moment I walked in the door that it wasn’t the right house. I couldn’t do that when I first started looking, but now I know. If you’re not quite sure you’ll know when it’s right, here are 9 signs that it is, and one that it isn’t.

You Get the Flutters
Remember when you first fell in love? Every time you saw your beloved, your stomach fluttered. It’s the same with a house. If I get the flutters when I’m in a house, I know it’s right for me. With some houses, the flutters are strong, like the second house we made an offer on. With other houses, the flutters are softer, but still noticeable, like with the house we currently have an offer on.

You Forgive Flaws
In some houses, I see flaws and refuse to consider them. However, with other houses I’ve been willing to overlook the flaws. An example is oven-size. Since we’re looking at older homes, many of them have small ovens. The second house we offered on had an oven that was a little smaller than I would like, but I was willing to overlook it. I wasn’t willing to do that with other houses.

It Doesn’t Have Your Dealbreakers
Even if I’m willing to bend on some things, my dealbreakers are still my dealbreakers. For example, even if it has updates and decent-sized oven, a too-small kitchen is still a too-small kitchen. I can’t overlook that, and houses with too-small kitchens don’t give me flutters. A house without AC is still a house without AC. I don’t even bother to look at those.

You Feel Pride in the House
Would you feel proud having people over to this home? Can you imagine yourself coming home to the house and feeling happy? Then it’s your house. We’ve looked at some houses that needed work and I could see the potential, but there were certain factors, like the location, that would always embarrass me. That meant it wasn’t the house for me.

You Can Imagine Putting Your Stamp on It
No house is perfect, not even a mansion. You’ll still need to put your own stamp on it – things like furniture, paint color, landscaping, etc. Can you see how you’d arrange your furniture? Can you see how you’d like it to look, and is that image affordable?

Recently we saw a gorgeous house that was nearly 2600 square feet (huge for LA, and massive for our price range.) Ultimately, we didn’t make an offer. We just couldn’t see how we’d live in it, despite the size.

It Meets Your External Criteria
Even if the house is perfect, it may not be right for you if it doesn’t meet your external criteria. I don’t even bother to look at a house if it doesn’t meet my school or commute standards. No matter how much I love a home, I can’t change traffic patterns or schools and those are important to me.

The House is Emblazoned in Your Memory
After looking at fifty houses, you’d think they’d all run together. The homes we like enough to make offers on stand out. I can still picture the details of those houses. I can remember how I felt in them and I obsess over them while we wait for responses on offers.

You Can Afford It
This is key. Sure, I could look at a $2 million house and see all of the above, but I can’t afford the house, so it’s not right for me.

You Want the House – I Mean Really, Really Want
Plain and simple, you walk away wanting the house. You want to make an offer right away. You can see your bidding strategy and know what you’re willing to pay. That said, make sure you don’t lose your head in a bidding war and overpay, especially in this market.

At a certain point, say when you’ve looked at 46 houses and have been in the market for six months, you might be ready to throw in the towel and just buy something, anything. Remember this sign that this isn’t the right house for you:

You Sort of Like It
Sort of liking it isn’t enough. You have to live here for a long time. You can’t just move in a year as you can with a rental. Don’t just buy a house because you’re tired of looking. My husband and I looked a house two weeks ago that we sort of liked, and could sort of see ourselves in. There were aspects we loved, but not enough to win us over. With the help of our agent, we realized we were capitulating. At this point, I can’t even remember what the house looked like or where it was.

People who aren’t married ask how you know when he or she is the “one.” It’s the same with a house. You know when you know, it’s as easy as that. Don’t settle until you find that feeling.


9 Responses to “Nine Signs It’s the Right House For You, and One Sign It Isn’t”

  1. Carnival of Personal Finance #210 – Punch Out Edition | Suburban Dollar on June 22nd, 2009 5:06 am

    [...] from Sound Money Matters presents Nine Signs It’s the Right House For You, and One Sign It Isn’t, and says, “After seeing 50 houses, I’ve learned a few [...]

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  3. Noah on April 26th, 2010 12:34 am

    My wife and I have been struggling with this idea of knowing exactly when a house is “right for us.” We have found that there is a lot of advice around for all the other elements of home buying/ownership but not much in terms of addressing this very difficult discussion of “knowing when.”

    Compromise is such a hard thing to take and it definitely becomes increasingly difficult when you are laying many hundreds of thousands of dollars on top. The advice rolls in around every aspect of this process but very little talk goes into setting up a way to really know when you’ve found THE house.

    So, as I lay awake another night attempting to evaluate whether it just hasn’t been long enough in our searching and therefore we haven’t yet seen the house that brings us flutters or whether we are being too “picky” I just wanted to say thank you for this post. I wish there were more…

  4. Aryn on April 26th, 2010 1:14 pm

    We went through the same thing, Noah. We looked at some and were intrigued, but in the end we just weren’t sure. When we finally saw the first house we made an offer on, we knew. It’s sort of like knowing that your wife was the right woman to marry. So, don’t worry that it hasn’t been long enough or that it’s taking too long. When it’s the right house at the right price, you’ll know.

  5. p on February 22nd, 2011 3:29 am

    We have been looking at houses all weekend long. I love river property and fell in love with the idea of river property and the location. Unfortunately the house is extremely dated and needs alot of work and the price is also over budget. We were willing to make the sacrifice and an offer, but the more I thought about it, the more nervous I got. We decided to keep looking. My husband said we made the right decision as it is not the one.

  6. k on April 6th, 2011 4:56 pm

    My husband and I have been looking for a home and the first one we saw, we immediately knew it was the one. It felt right. We could completely see ourselves in the house and fit all of our criteria. Unfortunately we weren’t the only ones to bid on the house. Someone else came in and had the perfect offer: 30% down, no house to sell, and very flexible with a closing date. We heard from our realtor that the owners really wanted us, but were persuaded from the broker to take the other deal. My husband and I were heartbroken, but continued to look at houses. None of which gave us the feeling as this house did. I drove past the house yesterday and broke down in tears because I truly felt that someone else just stole my home. That’s how strongly I feel about it. Closing on this is end of May…so as they say it ain’t over ’till it’s over!

  7. Janet on June 3rd, 2011 7:02 pm

    We have been living in this house for over twelve years and I cannot say I ever really liked it. It is OK and suitable and there isn’t anything wrong with it.
    I thought with some changes I would grow to like it but it hasn’t made a difference and I am glad to say we are putting it up for sale shortly as we have found another house we both really like!

  8. Barma on August 31st, 2012 7:36 pm

    Looking for 3 months in an old home market. Nothing was working, the ones that we like are too expensive. Renting is more expensive then buying. Made offers on 2 overpriced homes, both dated in (bathrooms, floors, kitchen) , finally found 1 loved the house, not located in prime spot, but in the area we want, price dropped & we picked it up. The first two houses we offered on kept us up worrying, this one no. So it’s right. When I thought of someone else buying it, made me anxious so that’s how I knew it was right.

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