Poll

Would you (or did you) prioritize location or amenities when buying a home?

Location -- distance to work or other frequently used things (gym, groceries, parks, schools, neighborhood feel, etc.)
34 (37.8%)
Amenities -- size/style/layout of house, size/style of yard, age of house, etc.
6 (6.7%)
Combination of both!
46 (51.1%)
Something else entirely (please explain).
4 (4.4%)

Total Members Voted: 89

Author Topic: Poll: related to home-buying  (Read 3431 times)

rubybeth

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Poll: related to home-buying
« on: July 21, 2017, 07:24:14 AM »
DH and I are "slow house hunting." We are in no major rush to find something, we live in the community where we are looking to buy, we still like where we currently live (rental), and we have a 20% down payment saved. I think right now we are both struggling with balancing two things: location and amenities. In our city, houses near our jobs and frequently used locations like our gym are older, somewhat larger than we really need, need more maintenance/updating, but generally cost somewhat less. Houses a bit further from our jobs are much newer, have things like vinyl or steel siding/newer roofs, are better sizes/layouts/amenities which are more appealing to us for our hobbies.

Which would you choose? Which did you choose? Tell me how to decide!! Stories/anecdata welcome. :)

Cranky

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Re: Poll: related to home-buying
« Reply #1 on: July 21, 2017, 07:28:22 AM »
For us, location was key, because I don't drive. We needed to be within walking distance of stuff.

I will say that if we had spent longer looking (we were moving from one state to another and had a deadline) I think we would have found something that met that requirement and was a bit bigger than the house we ended up buying, but we've been in this house for 22 years and the location is still awesome for me.

RWD

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Re: Poll: related to home-buying
« Reply #2 on: July 21, 2017, 07:30:52 AM »
A combination for us. We wanted something newer with a garage within biking distance from my wife's work. Also important to us was the floor plan and lack of HOA. We found a house that met all our basic criteria.

gardeningandgreen

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Re: Poll: related to home-buying
« Reply #3 on: July 21, 2017, 07:34:36 AM »
I chose other because we were looking for a location close to work but since then both of us have moved locations so that's not super helpful(our city is fairly small though). We were also looking for a great deal that someone else might have not seen. We ended up finding a house that was poorly staged and needed some remodeling. We are doing the remodeling now and when all is said and done it will make us a fairly nice amount of money. This was not our forever house though. It is our first house and we plan on finding another house in 5 or so years to remodel again!

TartanTallulah

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Re: Poll: related to home-buying
« Reply #4 on: July 21, 2017, 07:51:55 AM »
I don't know what this says about me, but after I'd clicked my selection in the poll I realised that I'd answered with reference to the ancient urban house I bought in 1994 and sold in 2011, not the modern, shoebox-style small-town house I bought in 2011 and still live in. The response would have been the same, though - a certain approximate location, some non-negotiable local amenities, a specific price range.


TheOldestYoungMan

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Re: Poll: related to home-buying
« Reply #5 on: July 21, 2017, 07:55:05 AM »
"-lack of HOA."

The gift that keeps on giving!

historienne

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Re: Poll: related to home-buying
« Reply #6 on: July 21, 2017, 08:02:37 AM »
We just bought a house.  Location was non-negotiable for us, we strongly prefer to be able to walk to work and to amenities, and we did not want to have to buy a second car. If location were not an issue, we would prefer a ranch house.  Instead, we're in a three-story townhouse.  For us, that's definitely the right choice (and in our preferred location, it's the only choice - it's a densely-built area with no single-story homes).

That said, if you are not under time pressure, I would target your ideal location and wait until a house comes up that is as close to your needs as possible.  That might mean finding something where the previous owners happen to have fixed it up to your tastes.  It might mean finding something that needs work, and is priced accordingly, so you have the opportunity to make it suit your tastes. 

If part of the problem is that the houses are too large, is there an opportunity to think creatively about how you use the extra space?  Can you create an in-law apartment that you rent out?

RWD

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Re: Poll: related to home-buying
« Reply #7 on: July 21, 2017, 08:02:45 AM »
"-lack of HOA."

The gift that keeps on giving!

Absolutely! Tried it once, not going back.

frugalnacho

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Re: Poll: related to home-buying
« Reply #8 on: July 21, 2017, 08:06:10 AM »
For me it was a combination.  I pretty much just made a list of what I needed:

garage
basement
2 baths (or the ability to add a second bath if the price is right)
3 beds
enough space in the yard to have a fire pit and a garden
reasonable taxes/insurance
not on a major road
biking distance to work

And never considered anything other than properties that fit my criteria.  Like you I wasn't in a rush, so I just kept checking out properties in my price range that fit my criteria until I found something I liked.

Zero Degrees

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Re: Poll: related to home-buying
« Reply #9 on: July 21, 2017, 08:41:33 AM »
Location!  But not necessarily to work. You are assuming you will always work at that location if you go that route.  I have lived close to work, only to find out my company moved to a new building in a different town, farther away - shortly after the purchase.  What if you get laid off, want to go to a different company.  Living close to work is nice, but not my sole reason for choosing a location - especially when buying because you cannot easily get up and go.

My location requirements are:  nice/safe neighborhood, good schools, and close proximity to places I will frequent (grocery, etc.)

TheOldestYoungMan

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Re: Poll: related to home-buying
« Reply #10 on: July 21, 2017, 08:49:16 AM »
Location!  But not necessarily to work. You are assuming you will always work at that location if you go that route.  I have lived close to work, only to find out my company moved to a new building in a different town, farther away - shortly after the purchase.  What if you get laid off, want to go to a different company.  Living close to work is nice, but not my sole reason for choosing a location - especially when buying because you cannot easily get up and go.

My location requirements are:  nice/safe neighborhood, good schools, and close proximity to places I will frequent (grocery, etc.)

This!  I bought my first house two blocks away from where my office was moving too, that deal fell through, new boss took over, decided he wanted to go a different direction, and I wound up with a 40 mile commute both ways.

KCM5

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Re: Poll: related to home-buying
« Reply #11 on: July 21, 2017, 08:50:45 AM »
Location and price.

Location - close enough to work that we can get away with only having one car. A walkable neighborhood. By chance, we're a five minute walk to a grocery store. And close to a bus line (even though we never use it. But if work moved (which apparently it's going to?) then it will be an option.

Price - we pretty much looked for the cheapest house that we would enjoy living in without doing any updates. Now, we have done a lot of updates since we bought, but they're solely because we like things to look nice and to our taste, not because it had to be done. And we can take out time because nothing HAS to be updated. This is all relative, as I bet plenty of people would look at our kitchen and nope the hell out of the entire house. We've lived there for five years and are just now getting to updating it.

birdiegirl

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Re: Poll: related to home-buying
« Reply #12 on: July 21, 2017, 08:55:15 AM »
It was a combination for us.  We chose location based on proximity to shopping, hobbies, family, etc.  plus safety, highway access, and of course what areas were in our budget.  The house itself was important to us too - we both tend towards being homebodies, so wanted to make sure we had a layout we liked with enough room for both of us to have our own hobby/office space. 

One thing I didn't give much thought to in our search at first was privacy.  Some of the newer neighborhoods we looked at had houses that were very close together and in some cases close to the road.  Once we started seeing a few "older" houses on normal lots, I realized how much nicer that would that be than looking out the windows right into neighbor's house.   We ended up with a house built in 1980 on a lot that backs up to a pond & some woods - very private in back and we get to see tons of wildlife right out the window. 

savedough

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Re: Poll: related to home-buying
« Reply #13 on: July 21, 2017, 08:58:59 AM »
With three kiddos, we picked the best school in our town (but it takes 15 minutes to drive from one end to another so proximity to stuff wasn't really a factor - everywhere is close) and then looked for a quiet street with three bedrooms on the same floor.  I sleep better having my kids near me and couldn't fathom sending a little one to the basement to sleep.  The criteria were simple but this is the third house we've owned in three states in six years, so we have an idea of what resells well and what value we can glean with minimal input.

Bracken_Joy

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Re: Poll: related to home-buying
« Reply #14 on: July 21, 2017, 09:13:28 AM »
It was definitely a combo for us. But we have an odd situation- neither of us has fixed work sites, we both drive all over the state (me)/PNW (him) for work. Basically, I picked a few areas I knew fit location fairly well- freeway access, good public school system and library, good food culture. Then we set up a spreadsheet for each house- priorities were age of house (we wanted newer, ended up with a 90s house), good sun exposure on yard, ideally good size for garden (got good sun, but smaller yard than we wanted. Oh well, I'm gonna rip out the front yard next year and plant it too!), proximity to grocery store and library... I think those were the main ones. We ended up with a fancier house than we expected, but in an area I had a good feel for the market, and so far I've been right- we've had it less than a year and smaller houses right against the freeway are already selling for $30k+ more than we paid.

Anyway, my best advice is spreadsheet. If you're really uncertain, you can even value weight the categories then rate them 1-10. Ie, grocery store under 1 mile is super important. If the store 0.5mi away, then it gets a 10. And the "weight" of the category is 5, since it's SUPER important. So that gives the house 50 points. And so on, then you can compare composite scores. Hope that helps!

rubybeth

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Re: Poll: related to home-buying
« Reply #15 on: July 21, 2017, 09:20:59 AM »

If part of the problem is that the houses are too large, is there an opportunity to think creatively about how you use the extra space?  Can you create an in-law apartment that you rent out?

Oh goodness, that's exactly why we DON'T want too much space!!! We call it the mother-in-law problem, which is kind of a joke, but kind of not. :(

"-lack of HOA."

The gift that keeps on giving!

Absolutely! Tried it once, not going back.

Yes, we don't want that either--neither option would be in a neighborhood with an HOA, just single family homes in either older neighborhood or newer neighborhood, no townhomes, condos, or other shared walls (one of the reason we want to buy is that I sing opera, and it's loud, so no shared walls is a priority).

ketchup

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Re: Poll: related to home-buying
« Reply #16 on: July 21, 2017, 09:26:10 AM »
First house I stumbled into by looking at what the cheapest house was within 10 miles of where I was already living (parents' house) and just kind of rolling with it.  It worked out for me, but I would not recommend that tactic.

Second house purchase choice was a bit more pragmatic.  Location and price were the two biggest factors.  Wanted to be closer to work for my sake, and closer to the local major highways and airports for my GF's sake (she is self-employed but travels a lot for work).  Didn't want to pay an arm and a leg (went with a budget of about half of what our lender wanted us to do).  Beyond that, we wanted a small 3/1 or large 2/1 (ended up with a small 3/1) and a fenced or fence-able back yard.  We wanted space for a home office, and a back yard for our dogs.  Also, no HOA.

rubybeth

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Re: Poll: related to home-buying
« Reply #17 on: July 21, 2017, 09:26:14 AM »
Location!  But not necessarily to work. You are assuming you will always work at that location if you go that route. I have lived close to work, only to find out my company moved to a new building in a different town, farther away - shortly after the purchase.  What if you get laid off, want to go to a different company.  Living close to work is nice, but not my sole reason for choosing a location - especially when buying because you cannot easily get up and go.

Well, the thing is, the plan is to retire early in 10-15 years, and I would be highly unlikely to change employers during that time. Like, basically a 0% chance of that happening. A change in employer for me would mean we move cities entirely. My job is also at a major amenity--it's the public library. My husband also just started a new job and likes it a lot, though that could change at some point, however, he works very close to another amenity we use a lot--our gym (also, unlikely to change, as it's the awesome YMCA in our community).

rubybeth

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Re: Poll: related to home-buying
« Reply #18 on: July 21, 2017, 05:07:34 PM »
Anyway, my best advice is spreadsheet. If you're really uncertain, you can even value weight the categories then rate them 1-10. Ie, grocery store under 1 mile is super important. If the store 0.5mi away, then it gets a 10. And the "weight" of the category is 5, since it's SUPER important. So that gives the house 50 points. And so on, then you can compare composite scores. Hope that helps!

I love spreadsheets, so I really like this idea! Thanks, bracken_joy!!

Keep the other votes/stories coming.

SwordGuy

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Re: Poll: related to home-buying
« Reply #19 on: July 21, 2017, 07:10:42 PM »
Our current house was chosen for both sets of reasons.

While we were looking for potential rental property purchases, we would occasionally notice a house that would be perfect for us.   Sometimes they were for sale, sometimes not.  If they were on sale, they were always way more than we were willing to pay.  All told, we had half a dozen houses on our list.

The one we ended up buying was on and off the market for at least 2 years before it finally came down to a price we were willing to pay for it. 

A year later, another one we had our eyes on came on the market and we bought it to do a slow flip.

Vibrissae

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Re: Poll: related to home-buying
« Reply #20 on: July 21, 2017, 07:22:29 PM »

I am literally in the middle of selling my current house and buying a new one! Hereís what was important to me in my search:

Location!
- My current house is almost an hourís commute from work; my goal was to have a commute of 20 minutes or less. The house Iím buying is 13 minutes. Yaaaas. (And my job is attached to a university. It ainít moving, and neither am I unless something really tanks. I love my job, and my job loves me.)
- Reasonably close to shopping. New house is ten miles or less from umpty gazillion stores (including Aldiís and Trader Joeís!).
- Semi walkable area. New house is about a 15-minute walk to various stores, eateries, library, and parks.
- Quiet road. Some noise is audible from nearby roads and a train track, but not much. (I was standing in the back yard when a train went by and blew its horn; I could hear it, but it was very quiet. Inside the house, I probably wouldnít hear it at all.)

Price! Iím paying for new house with the proceeds of selling old house; new house is just slightly under my max target price.

Property tax! No lie, Iím paying just over $10,000/yr at my current house, which was the face punch that set me on the road to moving. New house is roughly $6,000/yr--not as cheap as some that I looked at, but tolerable.

Amenities! These were wants more than needs.
- Size. My current house is around 1,100 sq ft and is already tedious to clean, so I didnít want anything much bigger. (This one was hard to stick to; I kept finding myself looking at houses in the 1,700-1,800 range.) New house is 1,312 sq ft.
- Number of rooms. Current house has two bedrooms and one office-that-can-also-be-a-bedroom. New house has three bedrooms. Just right.
- Was hoping for a garage and got one.
- No fixer-uppers. Iím interested in learning how to be handy, but donít want to start with a whole-house project. New house is pretty much move in ready.
- Single-family detached home only. (I donít want to share walls with neighbors. I also donít want to pay HOA fees.)
- Preferably no septic (dealing with current houseís septic inspection failure right now, ugh) or oil heat. New house is public water/sewer and gas heat.

Stuff that I let go....
- Central AC would have been nice; I would have lived with window units (or had central installed). New house has mini splits, which Iíve never had before. Should be fine, I guess?
- In theory, I love ranch houses--current house is a ranch--but in actual fact nearly every ranch I looked at had tiny, stupid windows that made it feel like a bunker and an awkward boxy layout. New house is a two-story Victorian.
- Lots of natural light. The living room has a big east-facing ďsunroomĒ section, but most of the rest of the house seems fairly shady. Iíll have to see how it actually is in the different seasons as I live there.


Anyway, I feel incredibly lucky to have found the house that I did, which checks off so many elements of my wish list! Weíre still in attorney review, so itís not 100 percent locked in yet, and I still have to see how the inspections go, but Iím praying hard. :D


surfhb

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Re: Poll: related to home-buying
« Reply #21 on: July 22, 2017, 12:05:38 AM »
I need to be near warm sun, the beach and waves.   

Unfortunately, there's only one place in the country with all three and its very expensive to live here. 

Home prices have increased %300 in So Cal over the past 20 years....crazy

BlueMR2

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Re: Poll: related to home-buying
« Reply #22 on: July 22, 2017, 08:17:19 AM »
It's complicated, we had a whole list of things we wanted to satisfy, and were mostly successful. Basically ran out of time to try and get *everything*, so had to compromise.

Things on the list we did get (the most important ones):
- Walkable/rideable neighborhood for the basics
- City water/sewer
- Trash pickup (rather than have to haul it to the dump yourselves for those unfamiliar)
- Single story/no stairs
- Crawlspace
- No swimming pool
- No sidewalks to maintain by the street (and minimal by the house)
- Yard small enough to maintain with reel mower
- Less than 45 minute drive to work
- No HOA
- "Easy" zoning/permitting for putting up an antenna tower
- Low enough price that we could get by with a short term mortgage until some high interest CDs came due that could cover the rest

What we kind of compromised on:
- House size...  It's a bigger than we wanted.  We've got a dining room and living room that are entirely unnecessary, plus we both have our own offices when we could have gotten by with just one (or none really, given the size of our family room...).
- Property taxes - A bit higher here than we wanted, but it is a really nice suburb (and fortunately the house size/value keep them from being too out of hand)

Things we weren't able to get but weren't as critical:
- 3.5 car garage as we have a car/motorcycle hobby, had to compromise with a 1.5 car garage that I can very carefully squeeze my 2 small sports cars into, plus a shed for the motorcycle, leaving just my wife's car outside.  (It's not just annoying, but around here the weather often seriously sets back working on a car in the driveway and a motorcycle in the shed, but we get by #firstworldproblems)
- Street without speed bumps (I HATE speedbumps with a passion, but just grit my teeth and bear it when I go over them)

What most people care about that we had no interest in whatsoever:
- Good schools as we have no kids...  Still though, we ended up in what's considered one of the best school districts.

VaCPA

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Re: Poll: related to home-buying
« Reply #23 on: July 22, 2017, 10:06:17 AM »
Both but definitely heavier on the location side. We live in HCOL area where traffic is really bad if you live too far from work. Ended up buying a 1970s split level fixer upper in the area we wanted, vs moving further out away from job centers and getting a larger newer house that didn't need renovations. The house style has actually grown on me and I'm kind of a big fan of the split levels now(less stairs, more openness)

I would say it's personal preference, I know people who go the other direction and just suck it up with longer commutes to have a nicer house. Although one of my friends who did that recently told me they regretted it and wished they did what we did.
« Last Edit: July 22, 2017, 10:10:44 AM by anorman79 »

TomTX

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Re: Poll: related to home-buying
« Reply #24 on: July 22, 2017, 10:43:04 AM »
So, location set the initial parameters - we looked all over the place until we found a neighborhood we really liked (close to work, library, food, parks, etc)

We then optimized for amenities/cost within that area.

Ended up making offers on 2 houses in this neighborhood - first one fell through, we had looked up what the house flipper had paid for it and only came up as much as their (low quality) reno was worth plus a mild profit for them. Stuff like painting, scraping off the popcorn ceiling - but not fixing the decrepit garage door. They wanted a lot more than it was worth, it stayed on the market a long time after that.

Second house we also made a low offer - had a bit of back-and-forth, ended up getting it. We knew the house had been empty awhile and had already cut the asking price at least 4 times because their agent was lazy - instead of reprinting the brochures, the agent just put another sticker over the price every time they dropped (!) - made for some great data for us! Easy enough to peel back the stickers one at a time and see the price drops.

ysette9

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Re: Poll: related to home-buying
« Reply #25 on: July 22, 2017, 11:57:27 AM »
I voted for location, but it is really more of a location*. What I mean by that is we decided that there are fundamentally two things that are absolute must-haves: location and zoning/ability to expand/remodel. Meaning, a single family house on a lot large enough to allow possibilities in the future is good; a condo where you cannot add a garage or a bedroom is not, even if they are both in a great location. Everything else can be fixed with time and money.

Having previously bought a great townhouse (great size, great layout, new so insulation and other things were great) that was in a bad location, I knew I would never do that again. Sure, it's nice to enjoy your house once you are inside, but if you don't feel quite comfortable taking a walk around the neighborhood after dark, or the commute sucks, those are things you just can't change. However my old house is in a nice spot in a neighborhood I know and like, at a distance where my husband can bike to work. We can use money to upgrade the insulation and replace the roof and, should we ever decide we want to, expand the house beyond its current 1100ft^2 (though I think not).

lbmustache

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Re: Poll: related to home-buying
« Reply #26 on: July 22, 2017, 12:24:43 PM »
Definitely location, because that can't be changed. The basics of a house are important, but something like an ugly bathroom or small bedroom can be fixed.

ysette9

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Re: Poll: related to home-buying
« Reply #27 on: July 22, 2017, 08:29:10 PM »
Quote
The basics of a house are important, but something like an ugly bathroom or small bedroom can be fixed.

In my HCOL area, the land is so much more valuable than the house itself that literally anything about the house can be fixed and is fixed all the time around us. The only prerequisite is that the lot itself be large enough to accommodate the dreams of the owners. :)

Lmoot

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Re: Poll: related to home-buying
« Reply #28 on: July 22, 2017, 09:23:49 PM »
I straight up told my realtor I'll either be your easiest client to find a home for, or your most difficult. I didn't care about the things many other homebuyers seemed to care about, like square footage, number of bedrooms and bathrooms, a specific neighborhood, schools, or condition of house, no HOA.

My needs were a safer neighborhood, older house and neighborhood with lots of trees and natural landscaping. I did not want to live on a street of lawns. I don't think she believed me until she found what she thought was the perfect house for meÖ And it very near was, but all of the neighbors had manicured lawns and I told her that was an absolute and hard no and I would not change my mind on that.

rubybeth

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Re: Poll: related to home-buying
« Reply #29 on: July 24, 2017, 08:01:44 AM »
These responses are very interesting. Thanks for all the input so far!

For reference, we are talking a difference of either ~2 mile drive (5-10 minutes) or walk to work for one of us, or maybe up to ~5 miles (15-20 minutes drive), if we bought something in the adjacent community instead of the city in which we both work. For most people, I think neither of those would seem all that long of a drive to work. We can basically get anywhere in our city in under 20 minutes, usually far less. We know that time adds up, though, and may be willing to spend slightly more on a house that has both the size/layout preferences AND is in a good location for both of us.

TravelJunkyQC

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Re: Poll: related to home-buying
« Reply #30 on: July 24, 2017, 09:56:00 AM »
For us, location and land. We were looking at both existing homes, as well as un-built land. We finally settled on a piece of unbuilt land, on which we will build a house in the next few years. The land is 20 minutes from both our work, and it's 60 acres of woods. Those were our two focuses: having a huge amount of property to have for generations to come, but not too far from work that it becomes unmanageable.
Houses tended to be enormous on large plots of land, which is why we decided to go this route (building a smaller home ourselves).