What Do Buyers Really Want? The Secret Homebuyer Checklist – Part II

Last week I reviewed a list of items to consider when buying a home. As a homebuyer, you typically know how many bedrooms you need, how many bathrooms you’d like and a basic layout that matches your lifestyle. But you may not realize the impact of little things like a lack of adequate storage space or the wear and tear of a commute to work or school (emotionally and financially).

In this column, I’ll continue to list important but sometimes-overlooked attributes that can make a property work for you for the long term. When people decide to call a Realtor and tour properties in their price range, they typically see each house once. If they see it in the morning, they see morning light. If they see it in the afternoon, they see afternoon light. They may not consider whether the house is positioned so nature helps keep the house warm in winter and cool in summer. Are there shade trees that protect the house when the thermometer tops 100 degrees? Are those trees deciduous so winter sun can reach the house? A well-positioned house with well-considered landscaping can lower your utility bills.

Is a view important to you? I recently visited a home in the eastern hills with the most fantastic opportunity for a view. But you’d only know this if you’re outside because the view is not featured from within—not a single window looked out onto this incredible vista. So positioning the house is important, but so are strategically placed windows.

Now we’ll talk about the neighbors? While living next to the future Ringo Star might be interesting 20 years from now, it won’t be the least bit interesting when the pounding of drums prevents you from concentrating on much of anything.

How about schools? Do you have school-aged children? If not now do you plan to in the future, or are you an empty nester? If you are raising your family, it’s great to have schools within walking distance. If you’re done raising your family, you may not find it charming to have hundreds of teens walking past your house every day or having new drivers negotiating their route to school.

Do you want a yard or not? Do you want a garden or would you rather not deal with landscaping and upkeep? Is there enough outdoor room for your four-legged children (Fido and Rover)? Is there a fence to keep them safe? Do you have a little cowgirl who is sure to want a horse someday? Is there room for Silver so she can play Lone Ranger?

As you contemplate all the details you’d love about your dream home, be sure to choose a location you love, too. Some people make the mistake of selecting a less expensive house even though it requires a commute. I debunked the financial myth in last week’s column (a 30-mile commute can cost more than $600 per month in gas alone—the house may not actually be less expensive if you add in commute costs). Here are a few other commute costs to consider if, for example, you live in Brooktrails and work in Ukiah: an hour on the road each day that could be spent with loved ones (or working or pursuing a hobby or exercising), lost productivity on snow days, wear and tear on your car, and the stress of driving. If you love Brooktrails, move there, but don’t move there simply to save money.

While this list isn’t exhaustive, I hope it provides a starting point for your own checklist of the frequently overlook items that matter most to you.

If you have questions about real estate or property management, please contact me at rselzer@selzerrealty.com 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.