Seeing Beyond the Past – Shopping for a Home and Seeing Potential

Anybody who has ever shopped for a home knows the feeling – you find a house in the perfect location but the colors are hideous, the kitchen outdated and the plan feels more like a maze than the spacious interior of your dreams.

Home buyers don’t often recognize their dream home because they can’t see beyond the structure’s past and imagine its full potential. By developing a thoughtful perspective toward the home’s potential, great value may be achieved that makes home improvements feasible, and gives you the opportunity to make the house your own.  

Additionally, since most buyer’s can’t get past that leopard print wallcovering in the kitchen, a home’s less than ideal appearance can give it a price point advantage – enabling you to purchase a great home at a lower price.

Don’t let your dream home slip through your fingers! Learn how to open your mind to the full potential of every home by following these simple steps.  

Step 1:

Before you tour the home, review all of the business parameters with your agent, such as the comparable sales, location, schools, and transportation. Does the price support the location and do you really want to live there? Look up the house on Google Earth, take a virtual look around the neighborhood and a virtual drive down the street.  You can get a sense of its condition and also from listing photos. Often, the fewer photos in the listing, the worse the condition.

Step 2:

Tour the home and allow yourself to react to its present condition and appearance. Get all of the “Oh My God” comments out of the way, and maintain a sense of humor about it.  Above all, don’t take it personally, just consider it an archaeological expedition and you’re recording it for posterity.  

Step 3:

Make notes about the things you dislike about the home so you can later review them in an organized way. Writing them down gets the emotion out of it and leads to a healthy perspective. Take photos to help you maintain a clear picture about each space.

Step 4:

With you list of negatives in hand, tour the home a second time and look at the home as a project, and think about what can make it be your own.  Is it simply a fresh coat of paint, or is it a new kitchen with cabinets, appliances and lighting? Does the plan need some editing? Might you add french doors in the living spaces to connect to that great backyard? Do you turn that extra bedroom into a large walk-in closet for the master suite?

Step 5:

Meet with your architect or designer and develop a conceptual budget for improvements, and also a timeline.  A builder can also be very helpful in developing your budget and timeline.  Add a 10% contingency to your budget, because just like archaeology you don’t know what you’ll dig up.

Step 6:

With the cost of improvements in mind, meet with your agent and decide on a reasonable purchase price. Determine your strategy and consider if there are improvement items that can be negotiated as part of the purchase price.  

During the negotiation phase stay positive and don’t get emotional. Be business-like and know that if it’s supposed to happen, it will happen. Don’t let emotion and wishful thinking get in the way of a fair deal. If it doesn’t work out, keep looking and the right house will come along.

There are always good houses to buy, and with patience, a methodical approach, and a positive attitude, you can discover the hidden potential that will transform an ugly duckling into your dream home.