This time of year love is on the minds of many. For those who are house-hunting, it can be a whirlwind romance that's hot from the minute you see the home's curb appeal. But don't let the seduction of a good-looking landscape make you want to tie the knot without a bit of courtship.
Keeping these terms clearly defined and always on your mind will help you make smart choices even when some areas of the home tug at your heartstrings and say "buy me!".House-hunting for the "perfect" home in many ways is like looking for that perfect romance - very seldom does everything about your proposed mate match your desires. Things you love at first may later get on your nerves and become what you don't like so much later on. Does that mean the house is wrong for you? Not necessarily. It could be, but if you understand your tolerance level–what's most important to you in a home, and what you can't deal with at all - you are less likely to want to buy the wrong home.
House-hunting should be like dating. Take your time. Understand the critical must-haves, the not-so-important-but-I-kind-of-want-it, and the no-way, not-going-to-happen-in-this-lifetime.
One thing you can do to help streamline the process is to start making a list about the things you like about your current home. If you're renting, there may be features about the home, apartment, or planned-living development that you want to find again in the neighborhood where you're going to buy your home.
For instance, you might want a gated community or a townhouse that has certain luxury amenities. Moving to an isolated home that doesn't have the same type of amenities could be a real turn-off. Also, it might mean you have to pay more to get those same amenities that used tocome with your rent. While this might not be a deal-breaker, it can certainly change the way you're used to living your life. So, be sure to take it into consideration. Walking a short distance down the street to go to the gym, the pool, the steam room will be different from having to drive 20 minutes or more to go to a gym/spa that you also have to first pay an extra monthly membership.
Another thing to consider is how many times you've seen the home. Just like dating, you might have an instant attraction, but the more times you see your date, the more you discover. With a home, (just like with a prospective mate!) you need to see it a few times and at different times of the day. This way you'll discover which rooms are dark and when or how loud the traffic is during rush hour. You might notice that there's a lot of commotion around the neighborhood because of nearby schools. Does this work with your lifestyle? Viewing a home and the surrounding neighborhood at various times of the day can be an eye-opener and can reveal just how much this home is a match with your lifestyle.
Just as you wrote down the things you like in your present residence, you should also make lists of things you want to avoid in the future and new things you hope to gain.
Remember, courtship doesn't have to last forever. Just as with romance, "the good ones will be gone if you wait too long!" So put a ring on... or rather, put an offer on that house!