Make a List of Desired Features

TLDR: It's time to decide what features and you want, what you need, and what you can live without.

What should I include on my wish list? 

The obvious answer to this is, "It depends." Are you a lots-of-land, I-need-my-privacy kind of person or do you absolutely despise lawn care? Do you prefer a house full of natural light or are you a dungeon dweller? Do you want a house in pristine condition or will you take a fixer-upper in exchange for a good price? Another consideration is the distance to work, the school district, and other local amenities. 

Status: It's Complicated

As if these factors aren't sufficiently overwhelming, don't forget to ask your significant other about their preferences!

For a house that you love but is missing a component, it might be worth finding out the cost to add your desired feature. However, don't expect the seller to foot the bill for a trait that is more of a "want" than a "need." We’ve seen buyers low-ball a seller because the buyer wanted a fence. The seller scoffed at the audacity of the suggestion that they foot the bill for the fence and declined the offer.

A Word to the Wise on Remodeling

If you're considering doing remodeling work yourself, account for twice the cost and three times the time you had originally allocated when envisioning how you would alter the house (How many Lowes runs does it take to replace a single part? In our experience, more than two). Home makeovers are never as quick or cheap as you might think, and it's always worth consulting an expert when modifying plumbing or electrical elements of the house.

How do I pick a good neighborhood if I'm not familiar with the area?

While this may not be the satisfying response a technologically savvy user base hopes for, “Drive around a lot” is the best response we can provide if you don’t know anyone in the area. If you do, ask friends, family, and/or acquaintances for suggestions. Once you’ve narrowed down your ideal location to a few areas, drive around at different times of day: mid-morning or afternoon (Are people at work or loitering in the area?), rush hour (How is the noise? Is there a lot of traffic?), and at night (Do people feel safe? Are people out running/walking?).


“Branch out! As my husband and I were discussing what we wanted in a house, he claimed he didn't want a ranch-style house. However, we ended up looking at a ranch style house on a nice cul-de-sac that we really loved. My husband's one concern was that his burnt orange corvette might scrape given the steep incline of the driveway. When we opened the door to the garage and saw that the current owner of the house also owned a burnt orange corvette, we knew it was fate!”