When You Can’t See Your Dream Home for the House

You’ve heard you can’t see the forest for the trees, sometimes in your real estate search you can’t see your dream home for the house.

dream homeIn today’s market there are few choices so it’s important to consider each and every property carefully.  When I look for property for a client I always begin my search online.  I look at the MLS website for new listings in San Francisco every Friday afternoon when the majority of them are posted.

It never fails that I have instant reactions to each listing based solely on the photos. The number of times I have had a completely different reaction when seeing the property in person is often.  Photos don’t always tell the truth.  Sometimes the place looks better, sometimes worse.

It is very difficult to evaluate the properties potential from photos. You have to see it and feel it to imagine what it could be. I call it hidden potential; in some houses it hides very well! Another distraction that may keep you from seeing your dream home in the house is the sellers’ décor choices. Please overlook their furniture and paint choices; they are not important.

A can of paint can take care of a multitude of decorating sins. Even something as sustainable as the kitchen cabinets or a wall dividing the living room from the kitchen can usually be remedied easily. If you a find a property in your ideal location; make an offer!  Location is the one thing that you cannot easily be changed (even though houses can be moved).

Think about things that can be changed easily in the property: flooring, paint color/wall coverings, windows, and light fixtures.  Then make a list of what you need to do in the future: add parking, expand the attic or basement into living area even add space outside the existing envelop of the house.  Can you make this house work for you for the next 3 to 5 years?

Also, be sure and think outside the box.  Could a condo work?  How about a 2 to 4 unit building?  Many times in San Francisco 2-unit buildings present a great opportunity to home buyers.  A 2-unit building with at least one vacant unit can be a gold mine in years to come.  Not just as rental income but from a condo conversion prospective.

I can’t explain the entire condo conversion process in this article but once the other unit is vacant you can sell an interest in your building to a buyer who will owner occupy that unit.  Once both units have been owner occupied for one year you can convert the building to condominiums and gain substantial equity.

Look at all your options and keep an open mind.  Your home buying search will be much easier. The name of the game is to get on the home ownership bandwagon in the early years of this recovery (btw: that is now).

In your property search keep the following tips in mind:
•    Don’t dismiss a property simply from the pictures you see online.
•    Don’t judge the property on the furnishing, paint color or other decorations.
•    Do consider a property that is in your ideal location regardless of condition or size
•    Do consider different types of property: condos or multi-unit buildings

What are some things that help you when searching through properties?