Compromises Worth Making When Buying a Home

Home buyers often have lots of must-haves on their wish list but let’s face it, it’s impossible to check all those boxes unless you’re the richest of them all. Imagine a triangle with price, location, size/style/upgrades at each point. According to Dana Gonzales, a Realtor® in Denville, NJ, “In most cases, you will have to be ready to give up on one of those three and expect to compromise. If you get 80% of what you want, you’re lucky.”

Experts name some common concessions and offer words of wisdom (or warning) on how those trade-offs can play out.



Let’s compromise # 1: All about location


It’s one of the first thing agents say their clients are willing to budge on. You can’t change the location of your home, so choosing the right part of the city and the right community should be something you don’t compromise.

According to Suzy Minken, a Realtor® in Short Hills, NJ, “While they might want to find a home that is within walking distance to the downtown area with shops, restaurants, and public transportation, buyers do not want to compromise on their living space. After all, they live in the home. Sometimes these homes are too small to fit their lifestyle needs, or the larger in-town homes are simply above their price range. So the dream of a walk-to-town location very often will get removed from a buyer’s must-have list.”

Keep in mind that the things that are important to you now may be more or less important to you down the road, so take into consideration your long-range plans, including how long you plan to stay in the house. For example, if you are single or newly married with no children, the quality of local schools may not currently be important; however, several years down the road, if you have children, you won’t want to have compromised on the quality of neighborhood schools.



Let’s compromise #2: All about Square Footage

square footage

You may be able to stay within your budget and live in a nicer neighborhood if you’re willing to skip that guest room, playroom, dining room you’ve indicated in your wish list. “Sometimes the reward is not paying long term for family and friends to be able to stay in your home.” Says Daniel Blatman, a Realtor in Manhattan, NY. This is a great deal most especially if you’re hoping to discourage the in-laws from spending three weeks with you each summer, this compromise could work out for the best!

Although you might want to think twice before moving into a tight squeeze, if you’re planning to expand your family in the near future.



Let’s compromise #3: All about Yard Size


Who doesn’t want a landscaped garden, or at least having an outdoor pool or hot tub? “When it comes to describing their dream home, buyers frequently say they want a large backyard,” Minken explains. “After seeing lots of places, however, buyers realize that the size of the backyard is not as important as the spaciousness of the interior of the home.

“When I ask my home buyers to qualify what they mean by a ‘large’ backyard, the answer is almost universally the same: ‘large enough to fit a swing set.’” And that’s not exactly football field-size. “So that means they have more homes to choose from, especially when inventory is low.”

The lot is often an afterthought when it comes to purchasing a property, but it should be in the forefront of buyers’ minds. It is the one thing about a property that cannot really be altered. Think about it: You could knock down a house and rebuild it from scratch, but regardless of the changes you make, the lot will stay the same. When looking at specific properties, consider the lot’s size carefully before submitting an offer. Do you long for a back yard big enough for your kids to run around in? Does the lot have a view that you can see yourself enjoying for years to come? If anything about the lot seems like a compromise to you, don’t hesitate to walk away. It will easier to find a similar property on a better lot than it will be to continually settle for a less-than-adequate location day in and day out.



Let’s Compromise #4: All about that awesome garage


“For the first-time home buyers who are moving from an urban area to the suburbs, it often comes as a surprise that not all homes have a two-car garage,” Minken says. “Older homes, built in the early 1920s and 1930s frequently do not. While there are homes that do not have a garage at all—and these homes are a much harder sell—buyers will compromise and buy a home that has a one-car garage if the home meets the other items on their must-have list.”

Buyers really do consider the type of garage. It would be helpful is the garage is attached and has an entry into the house most especially during inclement weather.



Let’s Compromise #5: All about a specific architecture


Been drooling for that Craftsman bungalow? Wait until you see the asking price! “Whether it be the architectural style of the house or type of kitchen counters, those things are one of the first things mentioned when clients tell me what they want,” notes Amber Dolle, a Realtor in Sherman Oaks, CA. “But when compromises have to be made and they’ve had time to look at homes for a bit and consider their budget, the home’s aesthetics usually are the thing they choose to overlook.”

Stay practical. You may not be able to find everything on your wish list in a home unless you build it from scratch. If you find yourself visiting property after property and never finding a good fit, it’s time to compromise your criteria. Keep in mind, you can always change out appliances, remodel bathrooms and lay down new flooring. You can’t make a big house smaller or a small house bigger, nor can you change the proximity to your neighbors, or to a busy side street.


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