All it takes is one glance, and your heart is pounding—spacious rooms, beautiful layout, and plenty of natural light? Yes, please! It’s easy to fall in love with a house, but much harder to find The One. I admit I’m a bit of a novice at house-hunting, but I’m well-versed in the ups and downs of failed relationships. Maybe it’s naïve to imagine that I’ll be as lucky in real estate as I was in finding my husband, but if any thing I learned in my many years of dating applies, here what you should know before making a big commitment:
- Don’t be blinded by love. I’m a sucker for a great smile or a stylish entryway, but love at first sight says little about potential for the future. Allow yourself to get a little bit excited—but then follow up with honest and thorough scrutiny. Whether it’s love or real estate, a beautiful exterior doesn’t matter if the foundation is cracked!
- It’s what’s inside that counts. M and I saw a house last weekend with an absolutely gorgeous yard—landscaped gardens, a spacious deck, and a path from the back into a wooded conservation area. But… the inside was dark and dingy, the layout was awkward, and the wiring was… wacky. As in, outlets near the ceiling instead of near the floor, and one inexplicably on top of the ledge near the fireplace. As much as I loved the yard, I knew it wasn’t going to work out. (With houses, at least you have the option of remodeling… with personalities, you don’t!)
- It’s better to shop around than settle for your first option. Unless it’s truly a mach made in heaven—everything you’re looking for in a home and more—it’s better to know what else is out there than to commit too soon.
- Know your limits. In love, we have emotional limits. In real estate, the biggest limits are finances and logistics. There are a lot of things that can be compromised, but some sacrifices are too big to live with. I can’t imagine living the rest of my life with a kitchen so small that M and I can’t cook together in it. Even if a house was otherwise perfect, if the kitchen was tiny and couldn’t be modified, it wouldn’t be the right house for me. Know what you need, and make sure you’re making a choice that meets those needs.
- Accept the things you can’t change. A really good house may come with that one thing that sort of irks you a little. Maybe the layout isn’t exactly the way you like, the bedroom is smaller than you’d hoped, or the washing machine is in a creepy basement. Likewise, the love of your life might think that it’s acceptable to put pineapple on a pizza. Think carefully about whether you can live with these things and accept them. You must really, truly accept them, because they will be part of your life for a long, long time!
In summary, be optimistic, be picky, and be patient—but overall, follow your heart. Believe that the right house is out there, and that when you find it you’ll know that you’re home.