When you look for a perfect home, there are lots of things you may have in mind. Bay windows, that nice little kitchen nook or perfect sized walk-in closet. I know I can spend hours browsing real estate sites, dreaming of being able to afford the best properties with spectacular sea views and bedrooms so big you can throw a party. Actually, I do a little more than dreaming. I look for the features I like best, and then go down to my price range, to see if, with a limited budget, I can make concession yet still get what is really important to me.
At the moment, I have decided to buy a plot and build my own house, which means I can get basic features where I only want the bare minimum, and splurge where it truly matters. For example, I am not getting a closed parking space, just a space in front of the house with a little roof for the rain and shade, but I am building an oversized master bedroom with a big closet and a big bathroom. Before that, most of the places I visited nearby had imperfections I was not ready to accept.
When you are on the market for a dream home, you have to picture yourself living there. Make several visits if need be, at different times of day, on weekdays and weekends, to see if the surroundings change. I once visited a place in a bad neighbourhood the realtors called “up and coming”, yet they always insisted we visited early in the morning. I later found out there were lots of unemployed people who hung out in big groups in the entrance hall, and some drug traffic going on, so at night it was pretty scary! Having lots of shops and restaurants around is going to be fun while you are young, but probably annoying if you start a family or have a demanding job and need a good night sleep.
You should also imagine yourself moving around the house. If you are looking to raise children there, having to climb stairs with a stroller might prove complicated. The same goes if you are close to retirement and are looking for your last home. Opting for a one-storey is probably wiser, or at least a home with a bedroom downstairs, so you can live there for as long as possible. Smaller details have an importance too. For example one place I visited had a master bedroom that could fit a king size bed, but if you did, then the electric plugs would be behind the bed. Pretty inconvenient to plug your phone at night. Try moving around the kitchen, pretend like you are grabbing food from the fridge, preparing it on the countertop, then cooking it. How far is it to the stove? To the bin? To serve the food and get back with dirty dishes? Walking a few extra steps is fine when you do it once, but on a daily basis it can get tedious.
Another feature I would recommend paying closed attention to is the orientation of the house. If you live in a hot area, you want to see how much shade you will get as the sun progresses during the day, in order to minimize your AC bill. In a colder area on the other hand, you want a maximum sunlight.
Finally, life changes when you least expect it. Unless you are confident you will spend most of your life living in this house, think about how easy it would be to sell it if you have to move quickly, say to relocate for a new job, or if it has at least a rental potential to help cover the mortgage as you rent in your new city. Property Managers in Melbourne can help your find out what your property would rent for if work send you to Sydney for example.
While a house may look like your dream home, it is a huge investment that deserves a lot of thoughts. Take plenty of time to reflect on those small details before committing to a decade long mortgage, and you will hopefully settle for a true dream home!