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4 Things You Shouldn't Settle for When Buying a Home

[Updated: Jul 27, 2020] Oct 20, 2019 by Maurie Backman
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If you’re looking to buy a home, you’ll likely start the process with a list of must-haves. It could be a certain number of bathrooms, an updated kitchen, or a swimming pool. But as you go about your home search, you may realize that you won't end up with every item on your list.

It’s not unusual to compromise when buying a home, especially if you’re doing so on a limited budget. But while it’s okay to forgo certain things on your wishlist, there are a few home-related items you shouldn’t settle for.

1. Location

If you’re unhappy with your home’s location, you’ll likely be unhappy with your home as a whole. You might gain some square footage or other amenities by buying a home 20 miles outside of your target area. But if that doubles your commute time and puts you further away from friends, family, shopping, and recreation, it’s probably not worth it.

2. Proximity to your neighbors

If you value privacy and quiet, a townhome or row house probably isn’t for you. The same goes for a condo in a multi-unit building. You'll have to deal with the noise coming through those walls as long as you own the property. Even though you might pay more for a standalone house, it’s probably worth the extra cost.

3. A lack of square footage

If you have a large family or you want a sizeable home, you’re unlikely to be content with a cramped two-bedroom condo or a house with limited space. Are you thinking you’ll build an addition? Understand that this can be cost-prohibitive and logistically near impossible.

4. A small lot

If your dream home includes a spacious backyard with plenty of room for your kids to play, settling for a tiny outdoor space could leave you miserable. This especially holds true if you’re hoping to put in a pool or make other upgrades that require more land.

The key question to ask yourself before you settle

Before you settle on any element of a home you’re looking to buy, ask yourself this: Will I, at some point in the future, have the option to change this?

For example, you might settle for a home with an outdated kitchen even though you’d love an updated one. While you may not have the money for a kitchen remodel now, you could save enough or build enough equity in your home to borrow against it. You could one day have the kitchen you want.

Similarly, cosmetic changes are easy and relatively inexpensive to make. If you buy a home with carpets and wall colors that leave much to be desired, you can fix that easily.

What you can’t do is turn a tiny backyard into half an acre of land. The same holds true for all of the items above -- that’s why you shouldn’t settle for them. If you buy a home with features you don’t like but can’t change, you may regret that decision.

It’s a good thing to be willing to compromise, but don’t be flexible to an unhealthy extreme.

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