Get your priorities straight!

When we were searching for our first home we were looking at it mostly as an investment so we tried not to get too hung up on the details that don’t matter. We weren’t searching for our dream home, we were looking for something within our price range that cash flowed where we would be comfortable living for a few years.

That being said, we definitely had to prioritize what we were looking for. For us this was an informal conversation in the car after looking at a few properties, but we think there is value to be gained from taking the time to sit down and make a list, especially if you are house hunting with someone else. It will save you a lot of time and frustration if you can come to some agreements up front about what you’re looking for. Here’s the process we suggest:

Step One: Brainstorm!

Make a list of everything you want in your property. If you’re searching for your dream home, dream big! Pool with a waterslide? Bowling alley in the basement? Anything goes in a brain storm session and it’s a great icebreaker if you’re collaborating with someone else. If you’re looking for an investment property your list might be a little more practical, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have some wishes of your own. Laundry in all units? A property delivered vacant? Why not? You should also include some logistical information such as the number of bedrooms and bathrooms you’re looking for, parking, budget, etc.

Image by David Schwarzenberg from Pixabay
Image by David Schwarzenberg from Pixabay

Step Two: Identify your “must haves”

Take a hard look at your list and talk about what’s really important to you, and what you’re willing to compromise on or live without. Separate your list into three columns by priority  and add ranges where they’re appropriate. For example you might have bedrooms in column #1 as  a “Must Have”, but with a range of 2-3 if you’re flexible on the number. This list might change over time as you look at properties and get a better idea of what’s out there, but it’s a good idea to have some ground rules to start with.

Step 3: Use your list to compare properties you look at

A lot of times you’ll end up going to several properties within the same weekend, and they can start to blur together. NextHome Titletown offers our clients a Buyers Guide book where you can take notes as you tour properties to remember what you liked and what you didn’t. At the end of the day we recommend redoing those notes in the context of your list to see how the properties you looked at fit your needs. A table like the one below is a great tool for comparison:
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Step Four: Make an Offer

Once you’ve had a chance to compare some properties you’ll be able to use these tools to make decisions about offers quickly which is key in a competitive market!

A list like this is also a great way to communicate to your agent what you’re looking for, and make sure we’re showing you properties that are going to be a good fit. We’re also happy to help you brainstorm if you aren’t sure what you’re looking for. Check our our About page to contact us and get started!

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The Team Achorn Experience

Last summer was a whirlwind of a season for Team Achorn. We spent most of the Spring looking at houses at a casual pace, then picked up speed when a seller’s agent called saying that a place we had made an offer on months ago was available again. We quickly resubmitted our offer and just over a month later we were closing on a three family property in Dorchester. That very afternoon we started renovations on the uninhabitable third floor unit that we needed to move into within a month.

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Our routine for the next month was: Wake up and pack our work clothes, lunches, and dinners before driving an hour to our 8-5 jobs. When 5PM hit we would run downstairs and microwave our dinners (meal prepping is amazing), change into our grubby clothes, and eat on the way to the new house. Once we got there we dove into whatever dirty work needed to get done that day. We scraped popcorn ceilings, ripped and replaced flooring, trim, and paint in every room, replaced appliances, and tore apart the bathroom until it got too dark to work and we had to head home to shower, sleep, and do it all again. Eventually we replaced all the light fixtures so we could work even later! On weekends Steve’s dad would come stay and help us with the projects that were a little beyond us: electrical work, replacing the kitchen sink and bathroom fan, etc.

 

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Two days prior to our required move out date, and one week prior to our wedding, which was also very DIY, we finally had a reasonably livable space. We continued to live with a chop saw in our living room for another month as Steve finished the flooring and we switched into full wedding mode. Looking back I’m amazed at what we accomplished in that short time with little planning and even less prior experience with any of the work we completed.  

 

We knew what we were getting ourselves into with our renovation for the most part, although the water heater that burst within two weeks of us taking ownership was a little bit of a shock! In retrospect, though, there are some things we would recommend to first time home buyers to make their process a lot easier than ours. We’d like to use this website as a platform to offer our words of advice, and lessons learned as home buyers, landlords, and investors. If you have any questions or want to chat about anything you see here don’t hesitate to reach out!