Take Your New Home For a Test Drive and See How It Runs
“Move-in-ready.” It’s a description created by the real estate industry to characterize a home as ready for prime time. Nothing to be done but pick up the keys and start your life there. And no one is saying that isn’t a great way to start. But significant opportunities abound in prime locations where homes that need work linger on the market. Yes — it means some sacrifice and a good-sized budget, but these fixer-uppers are not to be ignored.
That being said, agents may also want to advise those buying these diamonds-in-the-rough by saying “not so fast” when it comes to wielding a sledgehammer and doing renovations before move-in. Zillow Porchlight’s Brendon Desimone says, “I often recommend that buyers live in a new home for a while before undertaking any major remodeling or pricey home improvements. I’m not talking about lighting or plumbing repairs necessary to make the house habitable. Rather, I’m referring to discretionary remodeling, expansions and other improvement projects.”
He cites several reasons for this. For one, once you move in, you might change your mind. Ripping out the carpet on the stairs might seem like a must-do when you move in, but when you see kids slipping and tumbling down hardwood stairs, you might regret eliminating a softer landing until they’re a bit older. “Until you’re actually living there, it’s difficult to know exactly how you’ll use the house, what will work for you and what won’t,” he says, illustrating how day-to-day experience is what will inform you of what projects are imminent or which ones are best left alone for a while.
In the frenzy of closing escrow and moving, you are no doubt in shock for a while. Moving is like a change of life to your psyche as well as to your finances. Taking on a home renovation is like throwing a hand grenade into this scenario, with multiple decisions to make and contractors to deal with. So Desimone recommends taking a break for a while. “Any renovation, no matter how small, should be designed with care. That means speaking to multiple architects, contractors or designers to get their take on your ideas and options — a time-consuming process.” He relates how just a single hour with a well-qualified contractor can uncover opportunities you never knew existed — non-load-bearing walls that can be eliminated, opportunities to bring more light into the house, and hidden treasures the home may offer.
While some buyers jump into renovations to avoid living in a construction zone or staying with the in-laws a few more months, they may have regrets about paying top dollar for a house that looks like someone else’s taste. “Rarely does someone end up buying the home they started off thinking they wanted,” says Desimone. “Live as-is for six months to a year. Take the home for a test drive and see how it runs. You may be surprised at how your perspective and priorities change once you settle in.”
Whether buying your first home, refinancing, or renovating. At McLean Mortgage we understand what a significant part of your life your home represents. We stand ready to help guide you smoothly along the road to successful home ownership. We’re dedicated to staying with you as your trusted expert mortgage advisor and partner for life.