First-time house hunting? Here's what's worth compromising on and why
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Everyone has a dream house.
It's the one we've spent hours constructing in our heads, with a pool, a cinema, a massive kitchen island, a huge garden, you know - all the necessities. Some of these we know are just the stuff of daydreams (goodbye, swimming pool) but others we feel like we really do need in a house.
When you start your house-hunting journey, you'll most likely have that long wish list of all the features you absolutely need in your new home. But as time drags on and you're not finding that perfect house - at least not within your price range - reality starts to sink in and you realise you might need to shave a couple of items off that list.
So starts the hard part - what do you take off? What is worth compromising on and what should you really be digging your heels in for?
Location, location, location
Or relocation, that is. You may have a spot that you really want to settle down in but you're finding that the only house you can afford in that area is roughly the size of a shoebox. If you're prepared to be flexible on location and broaden your search area, you'll give yourself a lot more options and often for a much lower price. Who knows? The exact house you're looking for could be out there and you're missing it because it's just a bit down the road from your focus area.
Also, don't forget to look to the future. Sure, Dublin might be the place to be right now but what about five or ten years down the line? Think of what kind of a house you want to raise your family in, if you plan on having one. Or if you're choosing the location based on where your friends live, do you think they'll be sticking around there for much longer?
This may be a tough one. If you've been spoiled by years of rolling out of bed at five to nine and still being at your desk with a cappucino by nine, this won't be the nicest change. However, being flexible on how far you're willing to commute could really increase the number of properties open to you.
Have a little look into what transport links are available in different areas. If there's a good bus or train service nearby or one starting soon, it might be worth it to make the move. You'll get used to the longer journey time and, who knows? You might even enjoy that extra little time to yourself before the workday begins.
Make sure to test out the journey yourself though. Make the trip during rush hour one day to see just how manageable it is. You want to make sure it's something you're happy doing every day.
Detached vs Semi-Detached
While most people would prefer a detached house for that extra bit of space and privacy, semi-detached homes are significantly cheaper. So ask yourself whether that extra bit of privacy is really worth the extra cost?
If you are willing to make the compromise, the key things to look out for are making sure the house is well soundproofed (being able to hear people walking around in the next house is not ideal) and, of course, making sure you have tolerable - preferably nice - neighbours. Think about how you'll affect neighbours too - if you're an avid drummer or opera singer maybe a semi-detached house isn't the way to go unless you're able to agree on practice times with the neighbours and then stick to those times.
Going over your budget
Is your budget your budget budget or is it just your budget? Know what we mean? Sometimes you have no choice in whether or not you can go over - the bank will tell you yes or no and that's that. But what if you have the option and you find your actual dream house that is just a teensy bit over current budget. What do you do then?
If you plan on this being your forever home then it may definitely be worth the stretch. Consider how livable the house is at the moment - if it's in good condition and you're willing to wait a while before starting any upgrades or renovations then go for it, but if the house is in a pretty poor state, you may resent having to live on a building site for the next few years because you've blown all your money on the actual sale.
Really, take it on a case-by-case basis but don't overstretch yourself. If paying over the odds means you'll have to sacrifice holidays for the next ten years and you can never go out with your friends, it might not be worth it in two years when the gloss of living in a new house has worn off.
A turnkey vs a fixer-upper
You've always imagined moving straight into your house once you bought it but you've found a pretty great house that needs a lot of work before it's move-in-ready. You need to ask yourself if you're up for the challenge. Can you really see yourself donning paint-covered overalls and getting stuck-in?
If you are considering a fixer-upper, make sure that you cost every bit of work that needs to be done carefully and that you have the budget to complete it. See if you can do the work before you move in or if you can live in it while the work is being done. If not, you may need to factor in the cost of living somewhere else in the meantime.
Everything in life requires a bit of give-and-take and buying houses is no exception. Just don't think of compromise as a bad thing. Sometimes when you see what's available and what you're ruling out by being too picky, it can open up some great options that you'd never even considered.
So next time you're house hunting, have a little look farther afield, or visit a house that you don't think looks that great on the outside. Take a little peek at that fixer-upper that's going for half your budget and meet the neighbours of that semi-detached that's oh-so-perfect that you wish it had been detached.
It might seem like a struggle but don't worry, you'll get there in the end. Before you know it, you'll be moving into your new, compromise-dream home and then the fun part really starts.
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