It’s hard to know exactly what you are looking for in a house when you first start your search. The best way to figure it out? Tour as many houses as possible. Like literally every single one on the market in your price range. It’s so hard to judge a house based on its pictures online, so it’s really important to actually get in the house and see it for yourself. Most realtors take the photos of the houses, and let’s be real, they’re not pro photographers. Make a running list that you add to after each showing of features that you liked and didn’t like. What is easy to change, and what would take more work than you’re willing to take on. I promise this will seriously help narrow down the search.
When we first started our hunt Max and I had a massive list of “must haves” in a house. We QUICKLY realized that all of those “must haves” were pretty unrealistic. I’m not going to get 5 acres of land, open concept, vaulted ceilings, an ensuite, soaker tub, wrap around porch, and hardwood floors in a starter home. So we changed our view. We started looking at houses as shells. We really just looked at the boring things: layout, foundation, roof, plumbing, heating, whatever. BECAUSE we can fix anything cosmetic in a house that we don’t like.
Our list changed to: is it livable as is? Can we grow into it?
Of course the house that currently has our hearts is NOT livable as is. If you missed my Instagram stories the other day, we have fallen in love with a house that has been gutted. The house froze and the pipes burst while no one was living in it so the current owner decided to gut the entire thing. It currently has no floors, no walls, no insulation, no ceilings, no bathrooms, no heat, no kitchen, literally nothing. The only thing left in the house is the carpet on the stairs. Not only is it not livable for us, it’s very unsafe for our pets.
BUT THAT’S OK! We WANT a project house. We would have borderline gutted any house we purchase anyways, someone has just already done that work for us! Am I getting my 5 acres? Nope. The lot is the size of a postage stamp. But the yard is very usable, and the back porch overhangs a gorgeous river. While we may be compromising on a few things, we also have a massive opportunity to be in a house with tons of potential that we can truly make our own!
I guess in a really round about way that’s my biggest piece of advice… when looking at houses… is there potential to make it completely your own? When you walk in can imagine turning the space into a home? I never had a “home” feeling at a showing until we saw the house with no walls, ceilings, heat, kitchen, floors, or bathrooms. And if all goes well… we’ll be able to turn that shell into a home that is perfectly and completely ours.