Seeing the Forest Through the Trees: House Hunting Edition
The first time I went house shopping, our Realtor would plan long afternoons where we would see five or six houses a day. We would do that as often as we wanted until we found the perfect house! Because there was a never ending supply of new listings coming on the market and each one would stay on the market for months! We took our time and made our choice.
Today’s buyers wouldn’t really recognize this scenario. Buyers can’t afford to be as picky as buyers a decade ago because there are way fewer homes for sale (2,652 single family homes on the market last month vs 6,056 in September of 2011, when I bought my first house!). There is also a lot more urgency in today’s market (homes sit on the market an average of 23 days today vs 77 days back then). All of this to say, you have to be a little more flexible if you’re looking for a house today.
With inventory already at an all time historic low, buyers need to have an open mind when thinking about what their needs or deal breakers are in a home. It’s very difficult to find a home for a buyer who must have a 3 car garage and carpet is a deal breaker. Garages can be expanded, carpet can be removed.
Size is another area where buyers should have an open mind. A lot of buyers tell me “I don’t want anything smaller than 2300 square feet”. And that totally makes sense. But, a new home built in 2021 that’s 2100 square feet can sometimes feel a lot bigger than a 1970s ranch home that’s 2500 square feet.
Keep your eyes on the prize. Think about what you cannot change about a house: the location, the neighborhood, how close it is to other homes next door, the traffic between home and work, etc. Those can be your deal breakers. Live with the 1980s linoleum until you can get the hardwood floors you’ve always dreamed of!
The best part about buying a house that doesn’t check all your boxes is that you can build your own equity. Whether you rip the house up before moving in or do little projects here and there over the years, it’s the best way you can add value to your home. There are even special loan programs just for this purpose!
There are still some really special homes out there! You just have to be patient, and of course, work with the best agent!