There are so many important questions to consider when looking for a new home. How long is the commute to work? Do I love the kids’ schools? Can I walk to a coffee shop? And what will it cost to replace that circa-1973 carpet in the bedroom?
But then there are a slew of other questions that, honestly, are often forgotten by buyers…but may make a big difference in your day-to-day life.
With a limited number of homes for sale, sometimes it feels like victory enough to have found a potential home in a community you want with a price you can afford! I know, I know.
But depending on how you actually live day-to-day, and the size/type of home you are looking at, you might want to consider some of these questions:
1. WHERE DOES THE WOK GO?
And by “wok” I mean wok or waffle maker or rice cooker or food processor or juicer or your (seriously adorable) red KitchenAid Mixer with its 900 or so attachments. Or your Keurig and its vast array of K cups. Whichever kitchen toys/tools are your faves. If you make waffles once a year on Christmas morning, this question is less important because it doesn’t really matter where you store it (you can definitely go dig for it in the basement once a year; no biggie). But if you are using some of these bulkier kitchen items all the time, then you’ll want to really look around the kitchen and think about how/where you will be able to place them, so that daily life will function smoothly. If you turn on your CrockPot many mornings before leaving for work (yay! Dinner is waiting when you get home!), then I’m guessing you don’t want to be digging for it in the basement three times a week.
2. IS IT A 2-CHOPPER KITCHEN?
Ok, I understand that question is not fully understandable English; it’s the shorthand many of my clients and I use while we’re house hunting. Because many of the buyers I work with are couples who like to cook together, we need to determine if there’s enough counter space in the kitchen for both of them to be chopping veggies at the same time. And by “chopping veggies” I mean chopping veggies or pounding chicken breasts or whipping up salad dressing or opening the wine or (yup) making sandwiches to go in the kids’ lunchboxes…and is there room to open the fridge door if any of these other things are happening at the same time? In some smaller homes, the kitchen just doesn’t accommodate two people working at the same time (especially, you know, if the Keurig has already claimed its turf). Maybe this home is in exactly the neighborhood you want, so you decide to adjust to the counter space challenge; salad gets made at the kitchen table, and wine gets opened way before the first carrot gets diced. It can totally be figured out! You want this house/neighborhood, so meal prep accommodations can be made. But if an uber-graceful, 2-chopper life with a mile-long countertop is what you really, really, really want, then it is time to move your search on to another house. Be honest with yourselves. You know best which trade-offs you are willing to make, and which concessions will make you cranky for the next five years of chopping.
3. LET ALONE THE WOK, WHERE DOES THE #^%*# CEREAL BOX GO?
In lots of smaller homes, pantries don’t really happen. So while you are checking out a house, look carefully and figure out where the cereal boxes will go. And by “cereal” I mean rice or coffee beans or your various fave vegetarian/vegan/gluten-free/kosher/locally-sourced/organic items or, you know, potato chips/Cheetos. Many of these houses have been around for decades, and we are pretty confident that the previous home owners were indeed eating…but sometimes you do have to wonder where they stored their groceries. There’s a solution, and you’ll figure out how to divvy up the cabinets between pots-and-pans and boxes-and-cans. But you may need to dial back your Costco habits! Which leads us to….
4. IS THERE A COSTCO CLOSET?
Maybe it’s not a closet. Maybe it is shelving in the basement or garage. But if you are prone to Costco trips where you score 300 diapers, 84 rolls of paper towels, and 750 pounds of dog food, just spend a moment of house hunting figuring where you might stash all your goodies. The dog will definitely fit, but the 750 pounds of his food?? Maybe not.
And ultimately, the final question:
5. AM I EXPECTING TOO MUCH?
The answer is, I don’t know. If you are hoping for all of the above at a moderate price for a cute little bungalow in a super-trendy neighborhood, yeah, maybe you are over-hoping. And by “bungalow” I mean a snug Cape Cod, or a one-level condo with no garage, or a large 4 bedroom house with a little galley kitchen. Some of those places just didn’t anticipate your Keurig and your Costco and your egalitarian, 2-chopper relationship. Sometimes you’ll stand in the kitchen and think, “This can’t possibly work.” And then you’ll look out the window at your favorite brew pub or your favorite elementary school, and realize this just IS where you want to live…and you are happy to stow the 24 rolls of toilet paper in the trunk of your car if it means you can live in this awesome neighborhood. For some people the most salient issue is absolutely location, location, location.
But maybe…and only you can answer this…life is just not going to work right for you until you find someplace with 2 more feet of counter space, and a pantry that fits both the bread machine AND the oatmeal, at the same time. Be honest; you don’t want to end up resenting your dream house for what it isn’t. For some people the features of the house are the most crucial and they’re willing to say “bye-bye, brew pub” to get a 1st floor laundry and the glorious workspace of a large kitchen island. Getting those extra features may mean raising your price point (and your monthly payment), or opening yourself to looking in other neighborhoods, or deciding to wait a year to save up more down payment to buy yourself into a larger place in the community of your dreams.
Or…getting the dreamed-of neighborhood may mean letting go of the counter space and vowing to laugh-instead-of-groan every time you trip over your beloved while prepping dinner. Every scenario will have its trade-offs and concessions. But it’s worth taking the time to really think through the options, and focus on what makes the most sense for the life you’ll like living.
In the meantime, your daughter just called and wanted you to know she had to take a shower, so she moved the wok out of the bathtub and put it next to your bed. 😉
On Facebook: Laurie Simon Goldman, Sibcy Cline Realtors
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Tags: buyers, home buyers, real estate, realtor
What a great post! Helpful, realistic advice.