Thursday, September 03, 2009

What I've learned from HGTV

So lately I've been watching a ton of HGTV which has numerous house buying shows. The top ones areProperty Virgins, My First Home, and House Hunters. Each has a slightly different format, but the basic idea is a househunter or couple or family tour a variety of houses in their price range and decide to buy one.

It's way more fascinating than it sounds actually and gives me great insight on what I need to look for when it's time for Jacob and I to buy a house someday.

First - people don't really know what they want. They ask for an older neighborhood with big-trees and character - "not cookie-cutter" is a common request. But then they tsk over the tiny bathrooms and closets and low ceilings and small rooms without updated appliances. Older houses with "character" are not new houses with new stuff, end of story.

To me, I'm happy as a clam if the house looks like everyone else's on the block. It's what's on the inside that matters. Big, walk-in closets, master bath suites with separate shower and soaker tub. Big, open floorplans with lots of windows and light. That's what I want - not character. I can create my own character with my own decor.

Second - people judge the home by its current trappings. If it's a model home, they ooh and ah over the furniture and decorations - and always end up prefering it to others. If they hate the current furniture or wallpaper - they won't buy the house - even though those things are so easily changed. People are emotional buyers. They fall in love with a house and it's current "look" rather than consider all pros and cons and looking at the "bones" of the house.

Third - people really want to be close to work. And they'll pick a crappier, smaller, more expensive home in order to be so. For most cities, the older homes circle the inner perimeter and are smaller and more expensive. The nice, big, cheap subdivision houses are always further out. So definitely something to consider.

Fourth - people really expect to walk into a house and buy it - with no money down! They want the seller to pay all closing costs, they don't want to use their savings for a down-payment. Now a lot of these shows were filmed before the crash - but let me tell you, it's giving me a great realization as to why we had the crash. Semi-employed people falling in love with houses they can't really afford and putting no money down or going into an interest-only mortgage. If you can't even come up with $5,000 for closing costs maybe you should just rent for a while and save some money!

Fifth - I personally don't want a fixer-upper. Some people love that kind of project. Not me.

Sixth - You alway have to make some kind of sacrifice. And you need to go into the process knowing what you're willing to give up. Location? Space? Yard? Condition? Only truly wealthy people can get it all.

Seventh - Sandra, the realtor on Property Virgins, is awesome. She's like a realtor and a therapist all in one. I totally want her as my realtor if we ever buy a house!


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