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.
Finding the perfect home- What are the signs?
• 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 of 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.
One sign that this isn’t the perfect home for you:
• You Only 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 at 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.