A few years ago we bought our new house in Kentucky. We looked at a lot of houses. It’s hard enough to find a new place in a region that is familiar, but in a new state it’s even more challenging.
I kept bringing a notebook thinking the notes would be helpful in making a good decision. I was wrong – the notes I kept didn’t help at all, but I later realized what I should have done and hope my experience can help someone else. Actually this would work for apartments, cars, boats or any other large purchase where you must balance wants and needs with available inventory.
This is a simple tip for those house hunting in a new area, or perhaps making a similar choice:
When you write down notes on each home focus on what you don’t like. Specifically the deal breaker items.
Yes, that sounds backward, but here’s the explanation:
We started with a list of “must haves:”
- Close to school
- Walkable to stores, or at least a park so the kids have some autonomy and wouldn’t drive us nuts needing rides everywhere
- All kid bedrooms on the same floor
- Room to park the truck in the garage
- Space for a shop
- Nice yard
And on and on and on.
The problem is that the perfect house doesn’t exist, and in the end the choice involves compromise. But it’s not clear what compromises have to be made until after you’ve seen a bunch of places and learn what is available.
Once we figured out the perfect house wasn’t available we decided to give up some items. As we gave up on those items we remembered that there were homes we liked but for those items. The trick was to find those houses to reconsider them. It’s impossible to do this when all that’s been recorded for each house is what we liked.
If I had kept a simple list of address, and reasons why we didn’t like it our search would have been easier.