If you’re shopping for a home, it’s nice to think you won’t settle for anything less than perfection. But come on, that’s kind of like holding out for the “perfect” partner—romantic, but unrealistic. Get a grip, folks!
“No matter what stage of life you’re in, you’ll never find a house that meets all your needs forever,” says Carrie Benuska, a Realtor® at John Aaroe Group in Pasadena, CA. “And if you’re too detail-focused, you could pass up one that suits you now or only needs modification.”
No, we’re not telling you to just settle. But we want to make sure you aren’t one of those overly hard-to-please, pie-in-the-sky idealists who’ll end up with no home at all.
Check out these signs your pickiness level is off the charts and could stand for some tapering back.
Sign No. 1: You know exactly what you want—to a fault
It makes sense to house hunt with a few basic criteria in mind (open kitchen, quiet street). But if your wish list is airtight and hermetically sealed (i.e., you pass up a home because your furniture doesn’t fit in the bedroom), a great place could slip right past your radar.
“People often think they know what kind of house they want before they start looking, but they usually don’t,” says Wendy Flynn, owner of Wendy Flynn Realty in College Station, TX. “Checklists should evolve as people visit more homes with priorities rising and falling.”
So, the less ironclad your wish list, the better. Flexibility is your friend.
Sign No. 2: You’re searching for your ‘forever home’—even if it’s your first
They’re called “starter homes” for a reason: Odds are you won’t stay there forever. Starter homes may be too small, or too far from your office, or even a tiny bit too unattractive, but if it’s within your price range and satisfies some basics on your checklist, maybe you shouldn’t pass over it so fast.
Yet that’s exactly what many home buyers are doing these days: According to Bank of America’s Homebuyer Insights Report, 75% of first-time home buyers say they plan to forgo buying a starter home and instead are saving for homes that they’ll love for a lifetime, with 35% wanting to retire in the first home they purchase. That’s all nice, but you could end up waiting a whole long time before you can afford that. Why not build equity in a first home for five years before upgrading instead?
So whether you’re scouting school zone districts or making space for grandchildren before you’re pregnant (yes, this happens, says Flynn), don’t let fantasies of forever impair your judgment for the home you pick here and now.
Sign No. 3: You think home improvement reality shows are actually realistic
On TV shows such as “House Crashers” and “Property Brothers,” fixer-uppers are transformed into eye-popping showpieces in a matter of days. In reality, such renovations are extremely costly, complex, often nightmarish, and always time-consuming. Details are glossed over onscreen, raising people’s real-life expectations.
“I can tell right away if a client is super picky if he wants to make massive renovations to a home that aren’t reasonable for the property or the neighborhood,” says Flynn. “Other times, I’ll jokingly say, ‘Now, look, this isn’t HGTV.’”
Sign No. 4: Your real estate agent’s getting exasperated
Good Realtors genuinely want you to buy a home you adore, so defer to their industry expertise whenever possible.
“I like to give my buyers the time they need to make their own discoveries and decisions,” says Flynn. “But I also respect their deal breakers: If a home isn’t a fit, let’s leave right away and not try to convince each other it will work.” And yet: Indecision can cause an agent to run circles around a client who won’t consider perspective beyond their own.
“Years ago, I had a client who always found a problem with every home I showed him, even ones he loved,” says Benuska. “Eventually, I had to sever our working relationship—to this day, he still hasn’t bought a home.” The good news: “Oftentimes, the root of pickiness is fear,” says Benuska. So if you’ve found a fantastic home and are nitpicking over the kitchen tile, ask yourself if you’re truly ready to buy.