Top-rated home makeover shows have shown prospective buyers that there can be hidden potential in homes that are, at least initially, just plain unappealing. But how do you know if a property you’re looking at is a diamond-in-the-rough with the potential for a jaw-dropping transformation—or just plain rough?
It starts by teaching yourself to ignore one of the classic obstacles that buyers can face: paint colors and other cosmetic issues. Because, unlike changing the floor plan or remodeling a kitchen or bath, paint and similar low-cost fixes are among the simplest ways to change in a home.
ignore these types of surface flaws and you may find a true gem of a home. Here’s how to get started:
LOOK BEYOND THAT FIRST GLANCE (OR WALL COLOR!)
You may be appalled by a home’s ugly wall colors or hideous wallpaper, the stained carpeting, or unattractive window coverings. They’re hard to overlook! Even the seller’s choices of furniture and its placement, or highly personalized decor, can make the rooms feel tiny and make it hard to imagine moving your furniture in.
But remember that those are all cosmetic problems that will either leave with the seller or are easily changed to suit your taste. To get a sense of the amazing difference these simple changes can make, look at the before-and-after photos on home staging company websites.
Step #1: envision aspects of the home apart from those obvious surface flaws. What do you love about it?
Location is one of the most important aspects of the home hunting process. Most people are looking for a home in a safe neighborhood. If you have children (or are planning a future family), great schools are another high priority.
You’ll also want to consider your commute time, along with the kind of amenities that are nearby. Grocery shopping, parks, and emergency services should all be conveniently close by. Add dog parks to that list if you have a pet but the home you’re interested in doesn’t have a large yard.
Step #2: be choosy about your location. How might it add to your lifestyle?
INTERIOR & EXTERIOR FEATURES
Step #3: compare the home’s features to your personal wish list.
The most important interior features are probably the number of bedrooms and bathrooms. Are there enough to meet your needs now and for the foreseeable future? Plenty of energy-efficient windows and lots of light also top many must-have lists. Other popular indoor features include:
- Hardwood floors
- An open floor plan
- A cook’s dream kitchen with a walk-in pantry
- Quiet office space for working at home
- A spa-like bathroom off the primary bedroom
- Walk-in closets
- A functional laundry room with plenty of storage
- An HVAC system in excellent condition
Outdoors, does it have the kind of welcoming curb appeal that makes it feel good to come home to? What features would you enjoy?
- A patio, deck, or other entertaining space in the backyard.
- Attractive, easy-to-maintain landscaping. If you have a green thumb, does the yard have space for a vegetable or rose garden?
- Fenced-in yard. This is a real “plus” if you have young children or pets—but it’s a nice-to-have in an otherwise perfect property. You can always add a fence to meet your needs.
- Attractive outdoor lighting that highlights the home’s architectural details and landscaping.
- A feeling of privacy — especially in the backyard.
THE EXISTING STRUCTURE
The home should feature solid construction and quality craftsmanship. Sometimes people steer clear of a home because of cleanliness or surface issues like paint, chipped moldings or old countertops. They fear what issues may lie beneath the surface.
If you’ve given the home a thumbs up in your first three steps, however, it may be worth taking a little extra time to look more closely during a showing to see if there’s really a cause for serious alarm. An experienced real estate agent can help you dig a little deeper, and weigh the pros and cons.
Step #4: a sound structure is key. If you’d like to avoid paying top dollar, it’s okay to consider a home that’s structurally sound but not in mint condition. Just be sure to gather as much detail as you can AND get a professional inspection, so you can factor this into your offer and/or repair planning.
When you’re used to seeing homes in all sorts of conditions, like we are, it’s much easier to see beyond the paint color and imagine rooms transformed by a little TLC. That’s one way we love helping our clients as they start to envision—and ultimately secure—their perfect home here in the Wake County area. Our complimentary home buyer’s guide (see link below), packed with useful tips, can help too—download yours today!