"We need a home that's completely move-in ready."
"I don't have time to do anything after I move in."
"This house needs too much updating."
We hear this kind of thing pretty regularly when working with new buyers. They want a house they can move into without worrying about renovating or updating right away. They want something that is exactly their style, within or even below their budget, but that doesn't need any work. Unfortunately...that home doesn't exist.
We recently received feedback on one of our listings. This is a home in a desirable neighborhood, reasonably priced, with all major systems updated - roof, siding, HVAC, windows, floors, etc. The current owner spent tons of time and plenty of money making these updates, and along the way updated most of the appliances and partially renovated the bathrooms.
Here's the feedback:
"This home needs lots of updating; the kitchen would have to be redone. Sellers put new counter tops on old cabinets, and all the baths have to be updated also."
Now wait a minute. Lots of updating?? The home was built in the 1990s, not the 1940s. It has beautiful hardwood flooring, new stainless appliances including a brand new, high end washer & dryer, granite countertops, new vanities, hardware and lighting in all the baths, not to mention the other boring, super-expensive stuff we mentioned previously. Lots of updating needed is simply not the case.
Don't get us wrong, when you are purchasing a home and making probably the largest financial investment in your entire life, of course there are things you need, and you have every right to be particular about your investment. But you also have to be realistic. You may need to be in a certain school district. You may need a main level bedroom for a parent. You may need wheelchair accessibility. But you don't need a home with a modern, white kitchen. You don't need a home with a slipper tub and a shower with two shower heads. You don't need a pool.
Unless you have an unlimited budget, this perfect home you have pictured in your mind (or on HGTV) just isn't out there, but there's still hope! Here's a little advice from our team's collective 20+ years in real estate:
1. Focus on your "must-haves." Really think about this. These are the things that you will never be able to change about the home, like the neighborhood or the school district. If the home has three bedrooms and you will eventually need four, do you have enough space to add on, or are there limitations based on proximity to the neighbors or a Homeowner's Association?
2. Pay attention to the ages of the major systems: roof, windows, HVAC, etc. These are the things that are going to cost a LOT to replace, but won't be exciting like a new kitchen or a bathroom renovation. So if you find a home with slightly outdated [but completely functional] bathrooms, but a brand new roof and windows, go for it! You can renovate the bathrooms over time in exactly the way you want them.
3. Keep an open mind. When looking at homes, you may not like the colors on the walls or the style of the sellers' light fixtures. You may not like their furniture, but luckily for you, they won't be leaving the furniture! And re-painting some rooms is one of the most inexpensive things you can do to transform a space. Same with swapping out light fixtures. So if you love the house otherwise, just go for it!
Chances are, you are going to have to make some changes to your new home over the five, ten, or 30+ years that you live there. And then guess what... eventually, it will be the perfect home!