When we think about impulse purchases, most of us picture a grocery store. After all, retailers purposefully set up their stores to encourage us to pick up and purchase items on a whim.
If you, like millions of consumers, like to shop for fun, if you are status-conscious or if you find that you spend money without thinking about what you are buying or why you’re buying it, you may be an impulse shopper, according to Ian Zimmerman Ph.D. at psychologytoday.com.
It’s one thing to grab a candy bar at the checkout stand in the grocers, but to grab a new home? Not good.
We see this tendency often in our real estate business. Clients who have a wish list that they swear is set in stone yet fall madly in love with a home that offers few of the items on the list.
Let’s look at ways to avoid giving in to the impulse to buy a home that doesn’t match your wants and needs.
The wish list
The most important features you want in a home go at the top of your home-shopping wish list. These are the non-negotiables – the extra bedroom, perhaps, or a community amenity you need.
These items should be in big, bold lettering so that when you glance at your list, there’s no way to miss them.
Not all these tips may apply to your situation, so use them as a guide to help you shop intelligently for that new home.
- Many homebuyers insist that appliances be included in the purchase of their new home. If you are among them, we’ll need to find out how old they are. Then, be nosy – peek inside the oven and inspect the refrigerator. This will give you an idea of how well the homeowner has cared for them.
- After the kitchen, home shoppers tend to spend a lot of time in the bathroom. Check these rooms carefully to ensure they will fit your needs. If you use electrical outlets a lot, check that there are enough and that they’re in the proper place for your needs. A blow dryer plugged into a socket 3 feet from the mirror won’t cut it. Is there adequate bathroom storage and lighting? If not, how challenging would it be to add these features?
- Speaking of storage, does the home offer enough of it? Check the closets, pantry, and other storage areas to ensure they meet your needs.
- Flooring is often a sticking point in a home sale. Whether it’s not the material you’d hoped for (carpet instead of wood, vinyl instead of carpet, etc.) or the flooring is damaged, it’s important to not overlook this inspection. Flooring is pricey.
- Don’t be so awed by the kitchen’s staging that you fail to ensure it meets your needs. Picture yourself using it – does it flow the way you need it to? Is there enough storage?
- Lighting is another often-replaced item in a new home. Determine if it’s adequate and how much of it will need to be replaced.
- The condition and age of the HVAC system and the water heater are important as well. This is another very expensive fix or replacement.
- How do the schools in the area stack up against others in the region? Even if you don’t have school-aged children, nearby schools can impact the home’s value.
- Check your wish list for items you must have. For instance, if appliances are on the list, find out if they’re included in the sale. Never assume and always ask.
- Never allow yourself to become so enamored with a home that you ignore major problems on the home inspection report. These don’t necessarily have to be a deal-breaker. With the right agent, negotiations may bring about a solution.
This is a very cursory overview of ways to keep your wits about you when shopping for a home for sale.
You can find a more in-depth checklist on the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s website. We suggest you print several copies – one for each home you view.