3 Things I Wish I'd Done Differently in My Home Search

by Maurie Backman | Published on Aug. 13, 2021

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Family touring home with realtor.

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It's easy to make mistakes when looking for a home to buy. Here are three I wish I hadn't fallen victim to.

Though my husband and I have lived in our current house for over a decade, I still remember the harrowing process of looking for a home to buy. We easily looked at dozens of properties before ultimately making an offer to purchase the new construction home we live in today. And while we did certain things right, like figuring out how much of a mortgage we could afford in advance so we didn't waste time looking at properties outside of our price range, here are a few things I wish I'd done differently.

1. Looked at more neighborhoods

In the course of looking for a home, my husband and I narrowed down our choices to a few specific neighborhoods -- but we refused to look outside of them. Our decision was based on factors like proximity to my husband's job and certain amenities we wanted from a neighborhood, like a town center and parks.

In hindsight, I wish we'd looked at more neighborhood options. Granted, some of those would've left my husband with a longer commute, but now that I know what some of the surrounding towns look like, I think we would've had a lot more buying options had we expanded our search parameters. And we likely would've found a town with lower property taxes, since ours are notably high for the area.

2. Been open to a different type of street

One of my must-haves when looking for a home was a quiet street -- either a dead end or a cul-de-sac. Having lived in New York City, I'm no stranger to noise, and in buying a suburban home, I wanted to make sure I had the opposite experience.

But limiting ourselves to small streets meant reducing the number of homes we could look at. Now, I realize that a street doesn't have to be a dead end or a cul-de-sac to be infrequently trafficked.

3. Focused less on square footage

My husband and I lived in a starter home he had purchased before buying our current home. Since we were upgrading from that, I wanted to make sure we increased our square footage by a certain percentage.

Specifically, we had a 1,700-square-foot starter home, and I insisted on adding a minimum of 1,000 square feet to our living space. Looking back, that was silly. While we were able to meet that requirement, it also cut off certain listings that may have been a good fit for us.

To be clear, at the end of the day, my home search was ultimately successful. My husband and I have lived in a comfortable, reasonably spacious home for over a decade, and while we've encountered our fair share of repairs, that's also not unexpected. But if you're looking to buy a home, it pays to be a bit more open-minded than I was, especially in today's real estate market, where inventory is so limited. Loosening up your expectations could open the door to more buying opportunities -- and bring you one step closer to homeownership.

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