It’s commonplace to try on suits, dresses, trousers or shoes before buying them. People instinctively know they need to try on clothes to be sure they fit, feel comfortable and are attractive on them. What about a home? It’s probably the most expensive purchase you’ll ever make. Isn’t it even more important to “try on” a home before you purchase it?
What on earth do I mean? Well, it’s usual to look for a home in places that are convenient to work and schools. Most folks take the daily commute into consideration when shopping for a home. Why not take the daily, weekly, and even monthly activities of family members consciously into account, too?
I once helped a young, single woman named Wendy to find and buy her first home. She worked for Geico, was rising very nicely in the company and wanted a home of her own and the tax break home ownership affords. She asked my advice about choosing, and we had a conversation in which I mentioned many of the sorts of things I’ve said here. We made a list of what mattered to her. Then we went shopping. We looked at a lot of houses. After we came out of each one, we had a talk about how it measured up to Wendy’s list.
One of the houses we looked at belonged to the young woman who later became my daughter-in-law. It was brick, all on one level, had a fireplace in the living room, and had patio doors from the master bedroom and dining rooms to an enormous deck with a hot tub. It was beautifully decorated in a sort of “pared down Victorian” style. There was a brass bed, some wicker, lots of healthy house plants, and a few Victorian pieces of furniture that were actually old, family pieces. Silver framed family photos were clustered on top of the piano.
After we emerged from the house, Wendy started down the two steps to the car and then froze in place. She had the oddest expression on her face. I asked what was wrong, and she began to look sheepish and confessed, “That house is so pretty and so nicely decorated, I just enjoyed looking at it and didn’t give any thought to how I’d live in it. I just wanted it.”
We went back inside. Wendy still admired what had been done with the house, but decided it wasn’t right for her.
Knowing what’s important to you can save costly mistakes. The process of “trying on” a house helps you evaluate what’s important. I think you’ll find it’s worth the effort.