Middle-aged couple with sold sign

You’ve done the hard work: set up a budget and gotten pre-approved for a mortgage. Now the real fun of house hunting begins.

We often speak of “falling in love” with a house and, in a way, finding a home is a lot like a romance. But, just like picking a partner, before you make a commitment, you need to be sure there’s more to your house than just good looks.

“It’s easy to fall in love with a charming fireplace and crown molding,” says Chris Richardson, president of Richardson Properties, “But if the roof leaks every time it rains, the relationship won’t have much of a future.”

You’ve probably already spent time looking online to sample neighborhoods and price ranges. Before you start visiting homes, however, it’s smart to create a plan for what to look for in terms of amenities.
Here are a few tips to help simplify your search and ensure you find the right place for your needs.

1. Make a list of wants versus needs

We’d probably all love a private wine cellar or an in-house sauna, but are they things you actually need? Determine ahead of time the items that are absolute priorities like a third bedroom or an updated kitchen. You’ll save yourself a lot of time and emotional turmoil if you concentrate on homes that fit both your price range and your lifestyle.

2. Find a trusted real estate agent

An experienced agent can guide you in selecting homes that fit your priorities and eliminating homes that aren’t suitable. They know the story of a neighborhood: the location of good schools, the proximity to public transportation and zoning laws.

3. Decide on location first

Any home you choose is bound to have some imperfections, but most can be remedied over time. Paint and carpeting can be changed. Additional rooms can even be added. But if you’re not happy with the neighborhood, you’re pretty much stuck.

Drive around during the day and in the evening to get to know the area. Beyond the home’s curb appeal, take into account closeness to schools, public transportation, traffic conditions, parks and shopping. Notice whether children are riding bikes, and if people taking walks. Trust your instincts and ensure that the area feels comfortable.

4. Check out the condition of both the home’s interior and exterior
Walk through the home once to get a general sense of the appearance and layout of the place. Then, visit a second time with a checklist to really focus on the condition of the house.

Test out faucets for water pressure. Look for peeled wallpaper or paint. Pay special attention to kitchens and baths since changes in these two rooms tend to be more expensive to fix. And don’t forget to check the outdoor areas. Unless you do it yourself, new landscaping can also get pretty costly.

Trust the agents at Richardson Properties to guide you through the house hunting process with more than 30 years of experience and local California knowledge. They’re also exclusively partnered with Christie’s International Real Estate, an asset if you plan to search overseas for your dream home.
Visit RichardsonProperties.com or call 805-781-6040 today and get ready to fall in love with your new home