Shopping for a new home is like starting a new relationship. At first, you’re attracted to the neighborhood, then you become infatuated by the beautiful bathroom and the extra closet space. You love that it’s near the local market and the dry cleaner. At first glance it’s so perfect, you forget to factor in any of the cons while going all-in on the pros.
Oops, it’s a pretty long commute to work. That’s OK, you tell yourself. It’s still worth it. Oh, and there’s only a tiny backyard. Well, you can always buy your produce at the market rather than starting that garden you’d always dreamed of — and forget about parking your new car in the garage that doesn’t exist. No worries, you think, at least I have that whirlpool bath. While soaking in the tub you realize that you’re not in the best school district and the mortgage payment doesn’t leave much room to make improvements.
Regret starts to creep in. Why did I dive head-first into this relationship? Why did I choose a home that didn’t meet all of my needs? Why didn’t I make a list of non-negotiables? Noisy traffic on busy streets, parking on an icy hill during winter — or trying to find a place to park anywhere in Boston, for that matter. If it was a nuisance in small doses, it could drive you crazy on a daily basis.
This is, sadly, a common situation for first-time homebuyers. It’s the one of the primary reasons why people rarely, if ever, stay in the first home they buy. A good home relationship starts when you temper the emotion of owning a new home with the practicality and long-term usefulness of it. So what should you look for in a rock-solid relationship with your home? Here are a few tips.
1. Shop Around. There’s no need to choose a home under pressure. It’s a rash decision that you may regret for years. Better to take your time with your decision, even if it means renting or living at home a little longer.
2. Never Settle. This is a tricky one. Depending on your financial situation, you may not be able to afford the perfect house in the perfect neighborhood with the perfect school system. That does not mean you should be happy with the first couple of homes you check out. Making a compromise should only happen after you feel you’ve seen the best of what is offered and you are comfortable accepting the terms of your mortgage. It is not uncommon for buyers to spend a year or more searching for the home that they can love for the next 30 years.
3. Work At It. People change. Lives change. Your home shouldn’t be a museum showing how you lived 20 years ago. Expect to improve your kitchen and bath, expand a room, or add an addition. These are financial considerations to make before the baby comes or your mother-in-law moves in or the kids go off to college.
4. Leave When It’s Time. Empty nest. Divorce. Aging. These are just three reasons to consider leaving your home and finding one that works for the person you are today. It can be a difficult situation, but too many people stay in home relationships that have soured — and that only leaves them bitter. Better to accept that it’s time to move on and remember what it was like when you fell in love with your first home.
The best place to start the process is with a mortgage professional who can answer all your questions. Call me today at 617-965-1236.
February’s Home Improver
Ice Dam Damage
Ice dams form on snow-covered roofs. The snow that melts first is the layer closest to the roof, due to the rising heat in your home. As the snow melts it runs down the side of your roof and freezes again, forming those scary-looking icicles and creating a frozen dam that prevents water from running into your gutters. The water prevented from the dams can find its way in through small holes in your roof, which can lead to damage of your walls, ceilings and basements.
Preventing ice dams starts with removing snow from the roof. Use of a roof rake is the best method. Shovels can damage tiles and create water seepage sites. Keeping gutters clear is also important, and removing dangerous icicles is necessary. If you feel the slightest bit uncomfortable on a ladder or on a roof, contact a professional. Too many falls and injuries have occurred this winter by non-professionals who thought they could handle the job.
In the spring — in advance of next year’s winter weather — consider a new roof or fixing the existing roof. Heating coils may also be installed on the roof to prevent ice dams from forming.
Stay safe and warm. Spring is just around the corner!