When considering which house to buy, something that seems unimportant at first blush can become a nagging pain in the back (or lower) over time. Since spring is here, many people are thinking about either remodeling or buying a new home. This being the case, let’s consider how important some of these items can be.
Consider closet space. Although I may never have met you or been in your house, I can confidently say you don’t think you have enough closet space. The other thing you suffer from is a lack of kitchen counter and cabinet space. Do I expect you to remodel to add an extra five square feet of closet or two square feet of counter space? No, but if you’re remodeling anyway or thinking of buying a new home, keep the following items in mind.
Closet space: how much is enough? Of course, it depends. If you are a family who heads for the slopes each winter, you’ll need space to store skis, snowboards, and lots of winter clothing when you’re not using them. Do you go hunting and need a place for your gun collection? Is your wife unwilling to part with any of her vast collection of shoes? Is your husband a pack rat who can’t throw anything away? Do your children play sports that require equipment that must be stored somewhere?
Moving to the kitchen, how much counter space will work for you? Do you need room for a microwave? Coffee pot? Mixer? Food processor? With all this on the counter, you’ll still need room to work—you know, to prepare meals. And where will you store kitchen tools or dishes you only use once in a while? Do your cabinets have enough room for every day dishes and the antique set you got from Great Aunt Mathilda? How about all those wedding gifts you received years ago that you can’t quite part with? Finally, you’ll need space for those once-a-year party items: your Super Bowl chip dispenser and your green St. Patrick’s Day beer stein. For food, do you need a walk-in pantry or do you use part of your garage to store extra food? A couple without children can probably put all their food in a couple cabinets, but if you have children (especially teens), a walk-in pantry and part of the garage barely suffice.
Once you finish cooking and decide to do a load of laundry, where do you go? Do you need a dedicated laundry room or can you put your washer and dryer in the garage? Do you want a laundry room with space for an ironing board and somewhere to fold clean clothes (or allow a week’s worth of dirty ones to accumulate)? If you use the garage, consider this: if it is at a different level than the rest of the house and requires a few stairs, you may regret it. While at 25 years old, bouncing up the stairs with a load of laundry is good exercise, at 65, it may be something else entirely.
And while you may be able to find a less expensive house a little further from your job, a 30-mile commute can wear on your nerves and your pocketbook over time. Be aware that the 60-mile roundtrip drive repeated each work day during a month adds up to 1320 miles. At $0.50 per mile, you’re paying $660 per month on a car expense that isn’t tax deductible instead of on a house payment that is (mostly).
I’ll share more subtle but important things to look for next week.
If you have questions about real estate or property management, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.realtyworldselzer.com. If I use your suggestion in a column, I’ll send you’re a $5.00 gift card to Schat’s Bakery. If you’d like to read previous articles, visit my blog at www.richardselzer.com. Dick Selzer is a real estate broker who has been in the business for more than 40 years.