Starting to compare homes is Step 4 of the home buying process. By now, you should have gotten pre-approved for a loan, looked at neighborhoods, created your wishlist, and chosen your Realtor. You know what you are looking for and what you can afford, but with so many choices, how do you know which house is the right one? These comparison tips will help you in your search.
Try to compare similar homes
Every home is different, but chances are during your search you will come across homes that are similar. Compare these to each other. As the saying goes, “Don’t compare apples to oranges.” If you try to compare a $3 million waterfront home with a $600,000 historical bungalow, you’re only going to make things harder for yourself.
Look at the features
Compare the “facts” of the homes. This includes square footage, number of bedrooms and bathrooms, age, and lot size. Then look at the other features of the home such as bonus rooms (home office, entertainments room), walk-in closets, pools, etc. You may want to create a checklist of these facts for easy compressions between the different houses you are looking at.
We’ve talked a lot about location already in the process, but that is because it really matters. When comparing homes, consider all the amenities and attractions nearby. One home may be near great schools but another is closer to work. Or maybe one is in a gated community but another has higher walkability. You need to pay attention to what is a priority in the location of your home.
This includes both the interior and exterior of the home. Pay attention to the quality of the home’s construction materials and finishes. Look at the age and condition of the appliances. Check for areas where there may be cracks in the wall or visible mold. Even if you choose a fixer-upper or plan to do some remodeling in your new home, you don’t want to have any surprise maintenance issues – especially if there was a similar home that didn’t have the same problems. Also, if some homes have new renovations, compare and see how much that adds to their price tags. A home inspection will be able to tell you a lot about the home’s condition as well.
It is no secret that money plays a huge part in the home search, so make sure to compare the financial aspects of different homes. The listing price is the most obvious. Two homes may be similar in features but hugely different in price. Or the other way, where two homes with similar prices may be vastly different from each other. Also look at extra costs that may be included such as utility bills, taxes, and renovations. Your real estate agent will be able to help you out with knowing what is the best value for your money.
Check the homes out in person. The impression you get from a home’s online listing may not be the same vibe you get when you’re actually there. Go to various open houses or have your real estate agent take you to listings you’re interested in. Imagine yourself in every home, and make note of the different feelings each home gives. You won’t know which is the right house if you don’t see others to compare it to.
Look past the changeable things
When you’re visiting these homes, it is important to know what to focus on and what to overlook. The “facts” that we mentioned earlier, such as floor plan and condition of the home, are elements that would not be easy to change, or would be very expensive to do so. The trick is to overlook the simpler things that can be changed. We call these “cosmetic elements”. If a home has a great floor plan and is in your desired neighborhood, but has ugly colored paint, don’t worry about it. These are easy changes to make to an otherwise great home – especially if you don’t mind doing a little DIY. Some other cosmetic elements to overlook include bad wallpaper, outdated light fixtures, pastel-colored toilets, ugly curtains, or dark brick or paneling.
Need help comparing homes or seeing past the changeable things? We’d be happy to help!