Consider the not so perfect house; why prioritizing the location, lot size, and lay of the land before considering the interior features of the home is so important in this market.
These are challenging times for home buyers. Housing inventory is at record low levels. Homebuyers are competing with each other for properties as soon as they come on the market. This week, our buyer client’s offer on a home for sale was one of twenty-six offers!
How can we, as exclusive buyer agents and brokers help our buyers find a home while protecting their best interests in the process?
By prioritizing the location, lot size, and lay of the land first and then considering the interior features of the home. I know this advice contradicts the norm. It is so fun to look at pictures from the Multiple Listing Service showing updated kitchens with granite countertops and bathrooms with trendy patterned tile floors. The interior of a home is important. But if you can look at the “bones” of the house you may discover your dream home is there, it’s just not perfect.
A well-constructed home was our top priority.
When my husband and I were house hunting many years ago, we kept searching for our perfect dream home. Working with our exclusive buyer agent, we determined that a well-constructed home was our top priority. We didn’t want a “McMansion” with low-quality materials and craftsmanship. We focused on older homes in established neighborhoods. Most of the homes we toured were well-constructed brick homes with hardwood flooring on each level.
The first day I saw our house, I walked out saying, “Nope!” But the second and third time we visited the property, I realized the lot was large and the backyard looked like a park. The house was on a cul-de-sac at the end of a dead-end street where four acres of woods created a little oasis that was less than a mile from the Metro station. It was beautiful.
The home’s interior however looked like the set from a groovy 70’s tv show. Built in 1961, there was shag carpet covering most of the floors and dingy original windows with heavy drapes in the living and family rooms. The interior walls were painted an odd grayish-blue color and the original tile in the hall bathroom was a shade of green not known in the natural world.
I walked out of my house again but this time, my husband and I discussed the possibilities. We loved the brick construction, hardwood floors, and beautiful backyard and neighborhood.
After lots of talking and lamenting about finding the perfect house, we bought our home. We’ve lived here for 23 years and absolutely love it! Why? Because our house has good bones. We replaced the original casement windows. We removed the old sliding glass door and louvered windows. My husband installed French doors with beautiful floor-to-ceiling windows on either side. We built a 40-foot slate patio across the back of the house, put in a lovely pond and landscaping that attracts frogs and other wildlife.
The hardwood floors were refinished and we painted the entire house. We replaced old chandeliers, lighting, and light switches.
Can you see past what is and visualize what could be?
The not-so-perfect house is not for everyone! You need to see past what is and visualize what could be. If you don’t have money to pay for the home projects, you’ll need patience as you save money or take on projects yourself. But if a not-so-perfect house is going to work for you, you have to determine that the neighborhood is a good fit, the daily commute works, and the house is well built with solid construction.
If a home needs cosmetic updates, give it consideration but remember it’s not the easiest choice. Home fixer-upper shows really make it look easy. But if a house has true potential, and needs mostly cosmetic updates, it could become your dream home.
In my work as an exclusive buyer agent, I see a lot of poorly built homes.
Just this week, I toured a poorly constructed home built 10 years ago. The vinyl siding was sagging. The porch railings were cracked and bent and the window casements were falling apart.
While the interior of the home had new white granite kitchen countertops my clients had learned to look beyond a flashy flipped kitchen. As exclusive buyer agents and brokers, we help identify the strengths and weaknesses of each home inside and out.
Victoria Ray Henderson
Real Estate Broker in Washington DC, Maryland & Virginia
The Buyer Brokerage
offices in McLean Virginia & Silver Spring Maryland
Member of the National Association of Exclusive Buyer Agents
Producer of Listen Up Home Buyers podcast