I love working with first time buyers. They are often young professionals, single or paired off, and looking to invest in their first home. Many are tired of paying rent and ready for a little more permanence and fewer roommates.
Part of what is fun about this demographic is that they have so much to learn. They often start out reacting visually to properties and transition into looking at them with their specific lifestyle in mind.
There are different aspects of a home that can make it appealing to a prospective buyer. If you find a home in an area that suits you perfectly, you owe it to yourself to try to look at your perceived negatives and see if your biases might result in you missing out on your ideal home!If it is a couple with a baby or two, or plans for one along the way, they often have biases based on what they THINK these kids will want as they grow. Here are some things that I often hear and I would submit are worth thinking a little differently about.
- The backyard. We all visualize the backyard as a haven from the craziness of our lives. Sometimes we think of it as a place the kids will spend hours playing. This might be true, but it also might not be. I have found, and many, many friends will agree, that kids often play out front (yes, in the street). I wouldn't give up the dream of a place to have a patio or deck, but you might rethink how big the yard needs to be and focus on finding a home with some outdoor entertaining space on a quieter street.
- The basement as a destination. The fact is that kids don't really want to play down in the basement until they are a little older. If you want to put a playroom down there, just be prepared to spend time with them in the playroom. At the younger ages, they will probably prefer to play at your feet (whether you like it or not). As they get older, this equation changes and they will often spend hours in the basement--but you may be in a different home by then.
- The basement bedroom. I have heard people with young children say that they will let one of their kids move to the basement when they are a little older, so they can do with one fewer bedroom upstairs. I rarely hear this from people with older kids. Most families end up wanting their kids to remain close by (both for their safety and to keep them from sneaking out as they get older). You may regret your house selection if you sacrifice the number of bedrooms that you want and count on the basement bedroom to fill that void.
- No access or egress from the basement. Most people think of this as a negative, but one of my friends put a new spin on this for me. If you can't get in or out of a basement, you can let your teenagers have friends over and know that there will not people (or things) snuck in or out where you cannot see. It is an interesting view point--and one that makes sense.
- No bathtubs on the upper level. Most Realtors will tell you that conventional wisdom says that you should always have at least one bathtub in a house. If you find a house that you otherwise love, and it doesn't have a bathtub, should you walk on by? Most adults, and even children over the age of 4, prefer to shower. If you are a tub-soaker, then you should look at whether or not you could add back in a tub. From a resale perspective, I would say that not having ANY tubs is not quite as awful as it used to be, but it is best if you have at least one, just to keep this from being an objection when you go to sell.
- The Open Floor Plan. HGTV has everyone ripping out every wall on the main level. It sure makes for nice, bright, wide-open space. It also makes for a much noisier main level. If you have, or may have, family members who are sensitive to noise, the completely open floor plan might not be as desirable.
There are different aspects of a home that can make it appealing to a prospective buyer. If you find a home in an area that suits you perfectly, you owe it to yourself to try to look at your perceived negatives and see if your biases might result in you missing out on your ideal home!