Don't buy a house that you like

One of the most important questions people are asking themselves these days when buying a house is, “Will I lose money if I have to sell it?”  Fair question for sure.  The most likely answer is yes, if you are going to need to sell it in the not too distant future.  Stay in it for a decade, is more the order of the day these days.

Of course some people will still be buying houses, regardless.  For those people who are buying a house, I say “Don’t buy a house that YOU like!”  I know that seems like an odd statement, but it is very important that you buy a house that MOST people will like. 

1) Spend hours in a house before you buy it; not minutes.

Don’t you think it’s odd that some people spend less time in a house before they buy it, than I spend picking out a pair of earrings or stockings at Nordstrom’s Rack?

2) Write down what you like and what you don’t like.

If there is nothing on the list that you don’t like, you probably aren’t looking hard enough.  There is no such thing as a house without pros and cons.  Bring some people with you, including your buyer’s agent.  Have everyone quietly write down the pros and cons.  Don’t discuss with each other until everyone is finished.  If your buyer’s agent has no cons on their list, fire them.  Now compare everyone’s lists while still inside the house.  One at a time, each can explain why they do or don’t like various aspects of the house.  It is more likely that you won’t miss something if you take the time to do this.

3) Ask your buyer’s agent what things they might ask you to do to this house, if you called them back to sell it.

Make a list, before you make an offer, of all of the cons and note which can be corrected and which can not.  Traffic noise is not something you can correct when the windows are open in summer.  Seeing cars go by, might be something you can correct with landscaping.  Bright gold switchplates changed out is simple, cheap and takes little time.  Take the time to go through all of the cons to determine if there are any that cannot be corrected. Then try to like something without things that cannot be corrected.

4) Be careful of homes that are just over a price break point 

Everyone knows that an asking price of $599,950 is better than one priced at $609,950.  In these times when people view property on the internet they put in a “cap price” such as $600,000. Consequently, you have a better chance of “breaking even” if you have to sell the house, if you buy it at $580,000 than if you pay $610,000.  Just is.  Don’t argue that point.  Just is.

5) Let the majority rule

Don’t buy a house if you are the only one who likes it.  If it is a vacant house, it’s easier to get a lot of people to come over and spend a bit of time in it.  If 2 people like it, including you, and 10 people hate it…keep looking.  The more you overlook what other people think about the house…the harder it will be to sell it if and when you have to sell it.

Agents often say Price will fix any Problem…but that is NOT true!  In a market in which only 3 of every 10 homes readily sell, you don’t want to be one of the 3 that no one wants at any price.  10 houses for sale = 3 sell because everyone likes them…4 sell because they are a good value…3 get passed over repeatedly.  You don’t want to own one of those last 3 houses. 

Test what you like against what MOST people like.  Better to pay a few dollars more for a house that is generally appealing, then to get a great buy on the house with the most negatives.