One of the smart home buying decisions you may have to make when house hunting, is choosing between two great homes. Choosing one is harder than it seems, especially if you’re a first time home buyer because you have little experience to go on. You don’t want to waste too much time trying to decide in case both homes are snatched out from under you.
Before you start panicking, be sure to read our home buying decision checklist below so you can approach the problem calmly and logically. Don’t forget to keep a list of pros and cons as you work your way through!
1. Consider your lifestyle
Determine which house best suits your current lifestyle - storage space may be necessary for you if you have a designer shoe collection or - like many Minnesotans - have a lot of outdoor equipment, or maybe you'd like a spare room for gaming or movie watching during the winters. Perhaps you love to entertain, how does the living room set-up work for that, is one better than the other?
Overall, try to look past the staging and see the bare bones of the design and floor plan of the houses so that you can find one that will match your lifestyle.
2. Consider your plans for home ownership
First-time house buyers and couples will need to factor in plans, such as starting a family, or if you want to do some renovation. Does one house fare better than the other when it comes to the size of the rooms or needing work done to make your mark? Considering your plans upon purchasing a home can help frame up whether a particular home will meet your needs in the short- and long-term.
3. Compare home prices
If one house is well within budget and the other is at the top of your price range, then the buying decision process should be easy. You would think. But often first-time homebuyers are torn because the house at the top of their budget is slightly more upmarket or bigger. Ultimately it’s your decision, but it could be safer to have a smaller mortgage and money in your bank account for day-to-day living, emergency expenses and savings Work with your mortgage and financial professionals to help you work through the numbers and mortgage scenarios for both homes.
4. Location, location
Location is often the deal breaker, especially if one house has a shorter commute to work, is closer to a park, or has other desirable nearby amenities. But if both are similar distance-wise, then consider the quality of the neighborhoods in each location - how well are the houses and yards maintained? Neighborhood quality can be an indicator of appreciation. Ask your real estate agent for sales figures in each Minneapolis neighborhood over the last few years to see which is increasing in value.
5. Schools on the radar
If you’re planning to have kids, then good schools might be the deciding factor. Be sure to research the elementary, middle, and high schools in both areas you're searching. If resale value is important to you, then keep schools on your radar even if you’re not planning a family. If one house is in a better school zone, then this will attract more homebuyers in the future.
6. The condition of the houses
Is one house in better condition than the other? Is one move-in ready but the other needs work? Depending on your circumstances and your budget, the one in better shape or move-in ready might be the best option but always get a house inspection done by a professional in case either home has underlying issues.
7. Have a second (or third home viewing)
By now one property should be standing out more than the other on your pros and cons list. But it’s important to see each property at least a couple more times if not, something may spring out at you that you didn’t notice before. Try to visit at different times of the day, and do a drive by in the morning or evening during rush hour to see if there’s traffic build up.
8. Ask for feedback
Finally, if you're still feeling undecided and struggling with the decision, getting feedback from a trusted friend or family member can help you put things in perspective. So when you re-visit the houses, take them along. They can offer you advice or suggestions from an objective point of view because they’re not connected with the buying decision process.
At the end of the day though, you have to make a decision that’s right for you and your family. The good news if you have two homes that you're interested in, is that at least if you put in an offer and it falls through, you may still be able to count on the second house as a backup.