Buying a new house is a time of excitement and possibilities. As you begin the search for your new home, you will most likely start with your wish list; a sometimes exhaustive list of what you want, including anything and everything from location to period details. Although it’s great to know what you want and to set out to get it, it’s also important to be realistic and to work out which wish list items are expendable and which are deal breakers.
Home is where one starts from - T.S. Eliot
Chances are that the top item on your wish list is location, and factors such as schools, work journeys and proximity to family and friends will often mean that this is an item which is not negotiable. Other factors may include the number of bedrooms, the type of property (for instance, if a member of the household is disabled then the need for a ground floor property or bungalow is not something which can be up for review), and parking availability. There are, however, a number of items which, although desirable, may be up for compromise.
The grass is always greener
It may be that having a garden is pretty high on your list but then you find a house which doesn’t have one, but is otherwise ideal. Before you dismiss the property out of hand, think about how much time you would spend in your garden and whether or not gardening is something that you enjoy regularly. If you only spend a few hours a week in your garden and complete maintenance only when necessary, then you may find that you’ll live without it surprisingly easily. Does the property have a back yard? If so, then there are many creative ways of turning a yard into a mini-garden with the use of flowers, plants and clever decorations. If the house has no garden or yard, but does have a conservatory, the use of plants and miniature trees can turn a conservatory into a lush and fragrant place to relax.
An air of detachment
For years you’ve been privy to your neighbours’ conversations, rows and music and now you’ve got your heart set on a detached property. Unfortunately, as you begin your search, you discover that the detached properties within your budget are in the wrong location or don’t fit the no-compromise criteria. It’s likely that you won’t want or be able to change the location due to factors mentioned above and so compromise here may not be avoidable, but it doesn’t have to spell disaster. Make a list of a few desirable terraced or semi-detached properties and then try this easy trick; after viewing the property, knock on the neighbour’s door(s) under the pretence of asking for information about the local area as a potential buyer. Even a quick chat on the doorstep will usually give you an impression of the residents and their potential as noisy neighbours - young children, dogs and even teenagers with their loud music may be evident immediately and will help decide if the house is for you.
Room for improvement
It may be that your wish list includes one or even two spare bedrooms for guests, but the properties within your budget don’t fit the bill. If you have constant houseguests then this may be something you’re unable to compromise on but, if you’re only playing host once or twice a year, then it’s unlikely to be worth compromising on other, more important factors. Check to see if the property has a loft which you may be able to turn into a spare room; this is often something that can be done relatively easily and affordably. If it’s just one or two guests then investment in a double sofa bed could solve the problem - most people don’t mind sleeping on a sofa bed for a night or two, particularly when visiting friends they don’t see often. Alternatively, you could offer to help with the cost of your guests staying in a nearby hotel.
For reasons such as having a busy lifestyle and/or having children to take care of, it could be that you are looking for a new home which you can move into without having to spend time and money on a lot of decoration and repair - but the property that you’ve just viewed, although otherwise perfect, resembles a fight between the 1970s and The Addams Family home. Rather than moving on and looking for something more suitable, take some time to assess the issue objectively. Is the state of disrepair an expensive structure issue or is it something that could be remedied easily either by yourself or by a professional? If the damage can be repaired easily, it’s worth negotiating a discount on the selling price to cover these repairs - this is something the seller is likely to agree to as he or she will realise that they may have to otherwise do this themselves in order to snag a buyer. In terms of decoration - loud wallpaper, tatty carpets and walls pocked by a lifetime of hanging pictures and shelves - you may be able to apply a few quick temporary fixes. Wallpaper and spotty walls can be painted over until you have the time and budget to redecorate and carpets can be covered with colourful and inexpensive rugs to hide wear and tear. Having found a home which is otherwise ideal, the inconvenience of repair and decoration will be worth it in the long run.
Although we’d all love to have the freedom and budget to find a house which matches the blueprint in our mind, most of us will, at one time or another, have to compromise in order to fulfil our most important criteria. As Zig Ziglar once said, “Be careful not to compromise what you want most for what you want now.”