My Partner and I Have Opposite Taste in Homes
It’s interesting to me how the differences in a couple’s taste are magnified when looking at homes. What’s important to one is absolutely no big deal to the other. It’s the opposites attract theory being played out on a home tour. Rest assured there is a home out there that will appeal to both of you, but there may be some compromise in your future. Well, maybe not you… but someone will be compromising.
Trying to find a home that matches up with everyone’s wish list may seem like an impossible task; especially in a market where there are few homes for sale. The first thing I suggest you do is to make a list of your ‘must-haves’ and your ‘wish list’. Do this separately first, then compare notes. Talk about why something on your ‘must have’ list is important to you. You may find that you’re on common ground with your partner more so than you think. It’s important to look at the big picture. How long will you be in this house? Is it your ‘forever dream home’ or perhaps just a stepping stone to get you into the market and on the road to building equity? Real estate markets ebb and flow, but the longer you wait for the perfect home, the less time your nest egg has to grow.
When making a list, start with these questions:
One story versus two … While those stairs may not be a big deal now, think ahead to when they may become an issue for someone in the family. A one story home may be a little harder to come by in newer neighborhoods as builders have taken to putting as many homes as they can fit on a plot of land. This is why you’ll see the two story home much more often than the one story as it takes up a smaller footprint of the land.
Open floor plan vs. several areas for entertaining … Yes, many times walls can be removed but you’ll need to consult with an appropriate trades-person to be sure that there’s support before you make any major changes. Don’t grab your sledge hammer until you’re sure that wall doesn’t serve a purpose. At the same time, three bedrooms versus four needs to be decided. Most times one bedroom will be used as an office or guest room. Is your family going to grow or are your kids all grown up and moving away for college? This is typically what factors into the home’s size. Do you want two bathrooms versus two and a half … If you have kids, you may want to consider looking for a home with a guest bath (trust me).
A large private lot versus a smaller, more manageable space … A beautiful backyard takes work. Hiring a gardener is certainly an option. Just be sure you’ve accounted for maintenance as a line item in your budget.
Two car garage versus three … Not all neighborhoods, especially the older areas, have the option of a 3-car garage. For those with large vehicles, be sure to measure your car or truck if parking inside the garage is a must have — not only the length but the height of your vehicle. If you’ve got a recreational vehicle, don’t forget to check the CC&R’s (covenants, conditions and restrictions) regarding the rules for RV parking. Some neighborhoods don’t allow them to be in view from the front yard. Fitting behind a fence isn’t always possible.
You also need to pay attention to the things that you can’t change. Don’t be distracted by the shiny objects like staging and trendy decor, but instead look at what matters most. Location, good schools, walkability to parks and entertainment. Those are issues you should try to agree on. Even if you don’t plan to have children, the next buyer for your home might. Good schools and a popular location never go out of style. You might want to drive by the house at different times of the day, and on different days of the week to see traffic patterns and activity.
Room sizes and configuration are often masked, as well. Stop and look at where the furniture is placed. Will you be getting new furniture or do you need to make room for what you have? Now’s a good time to be discussing that issue with your partner. Don’t be going on a furniture shopping spree just yet, but… is there ample wall space and is the family room large enough for your big sectional couch? I don’t want to add to your list of ‘must have’s’ but there are homes that just don’t work for certain furniture sets. Their rooms are too narrow or they adjoin other rooms in such a way that I’m not sure where you’d even put the furniture??
If you’re looking for creative ideas to share the space you have, setting up a room as a ‘dual purpose’ area can be one way to utilize all of the space in your home without feeling crowded or cluttered. A single room can be easily set up with 2 separate work spaces. Whether you’ve got individual desks or a counter along the wall, think about adding a chest of drawers underneath to add more storage for things you both use. You can also eliminate some of the clutter on your desk by adding a pendant lighting over your work space instead of a desk lamp.
Did you start the year with high hopes of getting to the gym but haven’t had the motivation to get out the door? Maybe carving out some space in your home is just the ticket to encourage you. A home office makes a perfect place to add fitness into your daily routine. It’s a convenient way to take a break from the focus of work while getting those extra miles in on your treadmill. You don’t need an extravagant budget. Simply add a stationary bike or stair master (find a discount used on Craigslist or Facebook marketplace), a yoga mat and some weights and you are all set. For busy parents, you may find that incorporating this type of set up into the play room will encourage family time and fitness, all in one space.
If a remodeling project is the way to reach your compromise, I suggest agreeing ahead of time on how many projects you want to take on and estimating the cost for each of these renovations. Adding your personal touch to a home is one of the joys of home ownership, but it can also be a big nightmare if not done correctly. Be sure to do your homework before you start any big project.
There are numerous things to consider when purchasing a home; hence why people differ in their options. Doing your research, making your lists and most importantly, communicating what’s important to you will help pave the way for an enjoyable experience. Yes — I said buying a home CAN BE enjoyable. Stress can be minimized with proper planning, realistic expectations and the right attitude… At the end of the day, when you’re relaxing with your partner in your new home, all of your planning will have paid off.
Carol Kellogg is a Realtor living in Fair Oaks, California. She started her career with Lyon Real Estate in 1992. Over the past 25 years she has sold hundreds of homes, focusing on the importance of the customer experience. Representing both buyers and sellers, her goal is to provide quality service with a personal touch. Whether it’s a first-time buyer or seller, or a seasoned veteran in the world of real estate, Carol brings an element of experience and confidence that her clients appreciate.
#1 Realtor in the Lyon Real Estate Fair Oaks Offices 1998 – 2002.
Masters Club Outstanding Life Member
The Realty Alliance National Sales Award
C. Mike Messina Award for Leadership & Professionalism
Former Senior Vice President of Lyon Real Estate