Approach House Hunting With Eyes Wide Open

rotateSo you’re thinking of buying a Florida home. Whether you are a first-time homebuyer or a veteran shopper, finding a home that fits is important.  After all, the house we buy represents a significant expenditure and will become the “home” where we live and experience many enduring memories.

The decision made will not be Utopia, but by paying attention to true needs and lifestyle requirements you’ll be rewarded you with a home that works.

Step one to launching your home hunt is taking the time to compile a list of what you genuinely need and want. Don’t just have it rattling around in your head…write it down! This exercise will keep you on track and help avoid the hazard of emotions and impulses dominating a decision.

The influence of eye popping features like gourmet kitchens or a theatre room can distort reality.  Purchasing a home based on impact features overshadows overall household requirements and often leads to frustration, over-buying  and the potential of costly future renovation.

In contrast, don’t let your reaction to questionable aspects of a home like an awful house color or sparse landscaping blind you to a house that ideally fits. That repaint is a relatively affordable fix.

In making your “hunt list” you need to consider how family members will actually need to use space.  Perhaps you rarely use a formal dining room, but a work at home office, craft home or child study area would fulfill an important need.

Aside from just focusing on the home you must equally give thought to the neighborhood selection.  Does it offer ease of commuting, access to the caliber of schools you may desire or recreation amenities that you want to enjoy.  Also make an effort to talk to neighbors to learn about the residents and revisit the community at different times of the day to experience transitions in traffic, noise and lighting. Finding the perfect fit involves the whole package of home, the community and neighborhood surroundings.

On a final note, avoid the pitfall of not properly appraising the cost of required repairs or changes you envision making to a home. Replacement of a HVAC system , cabinets, flooring and roof can be costly. Objectively factor these costs into the ultimate price of a home to arrive at a true “price” for a home you are considering.

By being prepared and entering the hunt with eyes wide open, your search is sure to lead to a fulfilling finale. Taking the time to analyze your needs and preferences and then creating a “checklist” will go a long way to keeping you on track for finding the home of your dreams and avoiding a nightmare of a decision.

George Sleeman is a real estate broker associate with Remax Realty One.  His 30 years of  residential real estate experience includes association with national and regional homebuilders, residential developers and realty firms.  Contact George at 352-464-7812 or

Granted we must realize there is no utopia.  But in the end a home is a necessity that must accommodate our particular lifestyle including emotional and practical considerations.    In the end you will make a decision about what you can and cannot live without.

Emotional decision.  After all it’s the place where your family lives and you keep all your stuff. Entertain friends work

That home theatre room is really cool, but will you really get the use to justify the cost. Is the view worth the dollars spent –

Balancing act of needs…budget…and personal preferences/desires…wishes

Consider – Location…Privacy (condo) – Responsibility (Condo vs SF – do you want control) – Maintenance – Budget (SF vs Multi comparision)

But don’t get caught up in making a decision solely by emotion.  Overbuy, pay too much

Consideration to replacing cabinets, countertops and flooring along can translate into Redecorating to meet your needs -  Tens of thousands of dollars.

Buying the wrong house can be a costly blunder that can haunt you for a long time. First thing is make a list of what is truly important .  Realistically consider your space requirements Not just in your head…write it down.  ‘

Don’t overbuy,  It’s easy to fall in love with a home filled with luxury features, but is it prudent to spend the money. Bigger not only costs more to buy, but more to maintain and carry.  Insurance, taxes, energy costs, repair bills, repainting, reflooring etc.

In the same way, don’t fall in love with a low price if the home can’t meet your needs.

In thinking about space requirements picture the routine of your family in the particular home.  Who spends time in what rooms and where do members of the household

Typically interact and hang out together.



Location – If you buy at the peripheral of an area to buy for less you must consider the Ongoing costs associated with commuting and extra time spent commuting.

Cul De Sac -  generally less privacy and more interaction with neighbors

Corner Lot – Greater Visability -  More traffic noise

Lock-n-go lifestyle or a condo


Does the road network feeding into the community.  Do they work well for your

Room for hobbies or home office

Study area for children

One story vs two story

On the other hand don’t let a easily modified issue get in the way of making a good decision.  You may see the house color as awful, but keep in mind a coat of new paint

Can be a relatively inexpensive fix.   In the same way you don’t want to let little attractions like the super cooktop influence your overall view of a house.


What is the condition of the home.

Think about the dollars required for repairs and the potential squeeze to income.


Visit different times of the day –

Traffic, lights, neighborhood noise can vary throughout the day and night


Find out about the homeowner’s association

Stable fees…any potential assessments because community reserves for

Maintenance of private streets or facilities were not adequate.


Talk with Neighbors

Are there a large number of renters in the community and does the mix of

Families, empty nesters and retirees fit your picture of a community.  Also older neighborhoods can be transistioning while newer neighborhoods tend to be

More definable.


School districts – however, be careful not to purchase home that doesn’t work

Pets – Association rulings regarding pets.  Space in home -  yard  etc.

Do you want or need a formal living room or dining room

Carefully take a look any repairs that are evident or uncovered by a property inspection.

Think about the dollars required for repairs as part of the purchase price.  Also be sure

The amount that may be required does not place an uncomfortable squeeze to your budget.


Ask to confirm utility bills.

Think you can modify the home to fill you true need.  Before reaching a decision be sure

You fully understand the price of the renovation.  Once you have a number add at least 10% more because that tends to be the real world.


Dream home or future nightmare -

Does the lot size work.

Privacy – Pet Needs

What were the codes in effect at time of purchase.  As a rule homes built prior to 2002 will carry a higher insurance premium.

Storage space adequate –

If not up to the challenge you get rid of things or start a pile up against a wall.


Energy Efficiency

Fixing the energy efficiency shortcomings in a home can be costly. Consider the breakeven period.

Don’t get carried away by the landscaping or the kitchen appliances or The cute sponge bob wallpaper in your daughter’s would be bedroom.

Before cementing the purchase be sure your review of the home considers the real world view of your complete household needs. Off with the rose colored glasses and on with the…Visit more then once.

Think about selling .  You may think you are going to live in the home forever, but odds Are that’s not the case.  Life happens and with it the need for change.  So another big factor thinking about what the resale prospects for a home is down the road.  It’s a tough thing to consider, but realize that there can be characteristics about the neighborhood, location or home that you think is perfect, but what will future buyers think.

Don’t count on home being an investment   that means you will not likely be able to recoup the dollars you spent for fulfilling certain lifestyle wishes.

Finally, when you find the one you really love don’t let it slip away. Others are also in the hunt