When we think about an impulse purchase, most of us picture a grocery store. After all, retailers intentionally set up their stores to encourage us to pick up and purchase items on a whim. It’s simple psychology.
And 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 the 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 make a home purchase that doesn’t match your wants and needs.
The wish list
The most important features you want in your home purchase should 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 their new home purchase. 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, that they’re in the proper place for your needs, and that they are GFCI protected. 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, attic 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 can be 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 counter and cabinet space?
- 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… and at what cost.
- The condition and age of the roof, the HVAC system and the water heater are important, as well. These are often expensive fixes or replacements.
- 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 – 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 purchase.
You can find a more in-depth checklist at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s website. We suggest you print several copies – one for each home you view.
The author, Rick Sheppard, is a licensed real estate broker with RE/MAX Achievers, Inc in Pennsylvania and a 32+ year veteran of the real estate trenches. He knows a lot because he’s seen a lot. If you have any questions about this or any real estate related topic, feel free to contact Rick at [email protected] and he’ll do his best to answer your questions.