The House-Hunting Must-Haves (And Three Mistakes)

Written by Posted On Monday, 18 November 2019 16:18

In theory, it should be lots of fun to look for your first house with your partner. The tough part is over: You’ve built your credit score up, you’ve scrimped and pinched every penny to save for your down payment and all you have to do now is shop...right? Well, yes and no. While it is exciting and fun most of the time to go house shopping, especially for first-timers, understand what should and should not be considered a “must-have” when you’re trying to find your first house. 

Must-Have: Safety

When you’re looking for your first home, almost nothing is more important than the area you’re looking at. What is the crime rate like? Are there any registered sex offenders living in the neighborhood? Do you need security cameras in order to feel safe there, or does it feel comfortable? In the daylight with the windows open and the sunshine blaring through, it might be hard to envision the home at night, but it’s essential that you do. Would you feel comfortable home alone in the dark, or leaving your partner home with the kids at night? A safe neighborhood should be your number one priority when you’re looking for a house.

Mistake: The Perfect Home

Everyone’s idea of perfection is completely different, which is one of the many spices of life. While you have every right to be picky and want the perfect place to be living for the next however many years, remember to be realistic too. Just because a house has outdated flooring and wood paneling from 1973 you should not close your mind off. Any decent realtor will remind you that you buy a house for its bones and not the cosmetic aspects, so learn to look past the faults of a home and try to imagine it once you’ve put your own spin on it.

Must-Have: Education

Even if you aren’t a parent or your kids have already gone through public school, living in a place that values education is important. This is your community and the place you are choosing to call home, and the children living there will become adults who have jobs of their own. A city that produces successful, educated children will eventually be populated with successful, educated adults. No matter where you stand on whether or not to vote for that upcoming technology levy, consider it a truth that kids who do well academically tend to do well later on in life.

Mistake: Fixating on That Neighborhood

You’ve decided that you want to stick to a particular location, which is fine, but remember that flexibility is key when you’re shopping for your first house. If you’ve decided that only one specific neighborhood will work for you and you refuse to budge, you are significantly limiting your options, especially if you’re focused on an upscale, highly desirable location. Be prepared to wait for an affordable home and hope that the owner accepts your offer among the slew of others they’re likely receiving.

Must-Have: You Can Afford It

Yes, it’s fun to dream and look at houses that are wayyyy outside your budget, but remember that those kinds of homes need to stay in your dreams only. You have a price range and you need to stick to it, otherwise you are wasting more than your own time; you are wasting the realtor’s time as well as the homeowners. 

Mistake: “We Can Do That Ourselves!”

Do not, repeat, DO NOT assume that you can DIY every issue that you see on a potential listing. Yes, shows like Rehab Addict make it look easy as banana bread to fix everything on your own, but remember that with big things like drywall, wiring and plumbing, you need a licensed professional to come through and not only do the job safely but also so that it’s up to state codes.


When looking for your first home, be realistic with yourself and your realtor when making decisions. Being rigid and refusing to budge can overcomplicate the process and turn a sweet moment into a sour one.

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Carol Evenson

Carol is a home renovation specialist with a background in organization and sales. She assists realtors with business management and growth.

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