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Discussion Starter #1
I've started house hunting. I went to two open houses last weekend (sans agent, next time I will have my agent come with me)...

I have a really hard time "picturing" myself in some houses. Is this a gut feeling I should just go with? OR could that lead me to blow off good investments/purchase?

Something as stupid as "Where on earth would I put a TV" when looking at the main floor of a townhome (litterally, I could NOT find anywhere to put one) bugs the crap out of me. I will be living alone, I don't want to have to set up my computer and TV downstairs (well computer sure, but not the TV).

And at what point does lack of a linen closet (or any closet) upstairs become a resale liability? (the closets in the bedrooms seemed good sized, but nothing int he hallway and no room for anything in the washroom?

This will be my first home and obviously I am looking at intro prices so I won't find anything "terrific".
 

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Tanya, I would say go with your gut and what feels good to you, or feels like it could be home. I can remember walking into some very nice houses and knowing instantly from the 1st floor that I could never live there, and some where there was potential, but then we walked into our teeny little house and we both were like "this is it". It was a lot smaller then most of the houses we were looking at, and we almost discounted even looking at it based on that, but we love our little house.

I think you'll just know.

BUT, if you aren't planning on staying or making it an investment only purchase kinda thing, then look for all those things you need to look at. But if it's for your home sweet home, then I think you'll just know.
 

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You are looking at what should be along term investment. You are going to live there. You should find a place that you will like living in, within your means.
 

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Okay.. where the tv should go IS a good thing to look for.. i mean really now.. if there's no place to put a tv, and you like tv.. that's a HUGE problem..

You need to go in with a gut feeling AND a well researched education on what to look for as well.. how new are the windows? roof? any water damage? what are the taxes? Is there a bath tub or just a shower?

So it's a combination.. write lists, rewrite lists, talk to everyone you know what what'd they'd change or wish they had.. those are good way to figure it all out.. and at the end of the day, honestly, you'll know when you find it =)
 

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Make a list of your must haves. Then focus on the top 3-5. If you get those; you will be doing good. Try not to focus on paint colors...that can be easily changed for cheap on a weekend. Can additional shelves be added in bedroom closets to make up for lack of a linen closet. I never had a linen closet break a deal. :) Electric dog collar for fence, yes....don't ask. lol
And like Kelli said...if that TV is one of your most fav things; that would be in the top 3 for you.
Realize that you won't get 100% of everything you want. Pick location first and then go from there and yes, make sure big ticket items like roof and a/c/furnace are addressed.
 

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Oooh, Tanya, how exciting! What parts of town are you looking in? Unless you have a car, I'd totally avoid the far west or east end. I realize prices are pretty high downtown, but it has way more character!

We're on our 4th home (in 30 years) and 3 of the 4 were dirty and cluttered, but I squinted, and could see beyond that. So don't let surface things dissuade you. A missing closet can be replaced with an armoire, and a flat-screen TV fits nicely on any wall.

Keep us posted! :)
 

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Great advice above. In addition to your tv, make a list of the dimensions of all of your furniture. One of the houses we bought, we couldn't fit our couch on any wall without covering up a window or door or the fireplace. That same house, our table and chairs wouldn't fit right in the breakfast nook (and it always drove me crazy). After buying the house, we had to buy new furniture.

Make sure you get a home inspection before buying. The first house I bought, I really had no idea what I was doing. The guy that did the inspection gave me a binder with all kinds of information about the house, but also when things should be checked (and how to check them). It was awesome!

Good luck on your search, it is definitely the right time to buy!
 

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Someday you'll want to sell the house you haven't even bought yet...chances are if something bugs you, it will bug your prospective buyer! Storage is always important, as is TV placement/furniture placement. Like the others said, don't let cosmetic stuff bother you, as long as there are no structural issues (inspection is a must!).

I am the worst at not seeing myself in a house, though. We had to build, I was just too picky. I think we probably looked at 30+ houses before we decided to build. But I know that isn't an option in most urban markets unless you are a bazillionaire.
 

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Great advice so far. I would like to add, do NOT let the real estate agent try to convince you that things like cabinets, countertops & flooring is "cosmetic". It is NOT cosmetic, and unless you want to sink big $$ into renovations, do not settle. if you do not want carpet, do not buy a house full of carpet. If the cabinets are ugly, unless you have 5 or 6 grand to rip them out & replace them, you are stuck with them. We were stupid when we bought our house 11 years ago. I hated the countertop (we JUST had enough money to replace it last year) and I hated the carpeting. the real estate agent was all "Oh, you guys can tear up that carpet easily". Sure, but it's a lot of work & $$ to lay your own flooring on 3 levels of house and have it look professional, and WTF about the stairs? We did it , but it took years, and I'm still not happy with any of it. It's a bad feeling to not like your house. I wish we'd held out, had a more experienced agent & armed ourselves with more information.

That aside, if you have some $$ aside for renos (we did not) and there is only 1 thing, like flooring, or cabinets, but everything else is perfect, don't let that one thing stop you. We had too many issues to fix, that was our problem. It was a 2 year old house with ugly floors, builder's quality carpeting everywhere, mismatched countertops and an unfinished basement


I cannot wait to build.
 

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Lots of great advice already. I agree, you have to go with your gut feeling. If you can't see yourself living there, you won't be happy there.

If there is no place for a TV where you want one, and no linen closet - those are big downers and propsective buyers when you want to sell are going to look hard at those things. Do you want to be running downstairs every time you need a fresh towel, clean sheets, or toilet paper? I sure as heck wouldn't!
 

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I am in the process of looking for my first home right now and this is some great advice. It is really fun, but also frustrating. I have to buy a house before the end of the year to qualify for the 8000 tax credit (first time home buyers!) Keep the advice coming!
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Thanks everyone :)

Jan - I am looking at Barrhaven most seriously, and yes, purchase of a car was greatly discussed when I met a morgage broker (no car = no house). I cannot afford anything closer into town really. I would LOVE central park but they start at like $260,000.

I already have my list
1 - Time to travel to work (i.e. close to major bus route)
2 - yard that is/can be fenced (doesn't have to be huge, but has to be there!)
3 - place for TV/sitting in main living area
4 - Ability to resell
5 - Not too bed (I will be living alone!) but not so small I have problems with resale.
If any major item will need to be changed (roof, windows) the price will have to reflect that.

When I said there was no where to put a TV I ment that litterally, there was one wall and it was the only place to put the couch (otherwise the couch would be in the walking path to the kitching area). The wall facing the "Couch" has the stairs and a door to storage so you couldn't even put a mounted TV there! And it's not like the basement had a good set-up for watching TV/entertaining family/friends either! it was terrible!

Good to be reminded of the cost of changing floors/counter tops. That often IS something they say you can change but I see your point, one still needs a good amount of money put aside for that.
 

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Me again ... what about dog parks? What's out in Barrhaven? I don't know that area at all.

And did I miss the memo? You have another dog? What's the story? :)

I guess the condos (highrise) at Hurdman aren't what you want, but if you got a ground floor apartment, you'd have a backyard (sort of :rolleyes:) and you'd be right on the river!
 

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I'd be concerned with buying in a well regarded school system - even if you don't have a school aged kid (resale), major systems (electrical, heating, plumbing, roof) being current and working efficiently, the neighborhood (stable, lots of owner occupied houses versus lots of rentals/multifamilies) , then all the interior issues would come after that.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
Jan - That is Kobe my foster. Four year old choco lab. If you know anyone who is interested he's a great boy. fairly quiet and laid back for a lab.

Dog parks are not on my list, I don't go to the ones 2 minutes from my place. Rocky just gets into trouble (i.e. eats stuff!). If I buy in the exact little area I am looking at it is near some trails. The area between the Nepean Sports Center and Fallowfeild (on Woodroff) is all NCC property I think. Forests and trails and such. I am going to do abit of reading on that.


I'd be concerned with buying in a well regarded school system - even if you don't have a school aged kid (resale), major systems (electrical, heating, plumbing, roof) being current and working efficiently, the neighborhood (stable, lots of owner occupied houses versus lots of rentals/multifamilies) , then all the interior issues would come after that.
all very good points, I am looking at townhomes so getting a feel for neighbours is ubber important. The area I am looking at has a good reputation.
 

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Since you're looking at a townhome, you want to make sure and enquire about the home/condo owner's association. What are the fees and what does it cover? Does the HOA put money into reserve for things like painting, roofs, groundskeeping, or do they asses the homeowners a buttload of money when big things come due? (There will always be people who don't pay!). A good association will invest money for big items and not run in the red, increasing your fees every year. A place with attached condos/townhomes that does NOT have an association is a red flag, too.
 

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Since you're looking at a townhome, you want to make sure and enquire about the home/condo owner's association. What are the fees and what does it cover? Does the HOA put money into reserve for things like painting, roofs, groundskeeping, or do they asses the homeowners a buttload of money when big things come due? (There will always be people who don't pay!). A good association will invest money for big items and not run in the red, increasing your fees every year. A place with attached condos/townhomes that does NOT have an association is a red flag, too.
You might also inquire if they have any rules on pets--type, size, number, etc. Some condos/HOAs do have this type of rule.
 

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Having bought (and sold) three homes in the past 6 years, I'll offer up this advice:

1. get pre-approved for a mortgage. This way you'll know exactly what your price range is before you wander into that perfect house that you fall completely in love with and then realize that you can't afford it. ;)

2. make sure you have your own realtor, one who is working for you and not you AND the seller.

3. make sure you have a home inspection.

If you're looking for a house that you're going to live in for a good long time, don't discount your gut feeling. That said, when I first walked into my current home, I hated it, but then I saw the kitchen!! Fortunately, I saw past the hideous old-lady wallpaper, the hideous old-lady chintzy furniture and saw the bones of the house and its potential. :) Paint can easily be changed, but as Theresa said, cupboards and countertops are $$$$$.

Also, all other things being equal, if you're thinking resale in the future, 3 bedrooms 2 baths is a lot easier to sell, at least in our area... professional singles, young couples, young families, older couples downsizing, pretty much anyone. My current 2 bedrooms 1 bath, though perfect in size for just me and the boyz, automatically eliminates anyone with kids, or plans for kids. I will never buy another 2 bedroom 1 bath again, even if it were just me and the boyz. ;)

How exciting for you!! Good luck!! :D
 

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Discussion Starter #20
Townhouses don't have fees or anything, which is what I am looking at first and foremost. Condo garden homes (pretty much a townhouse with condo association/fees) - yes you have to investigate the contract, what changes were done, what changes are upcoming, money in fund, rules, etc. There was something on the news the other day about condos trying to force people to get rid of their pets....not gonna happen to me!

Having bought (and sold) three homes in the past 6 years, I'll offer up this advice:

1. get pre-approved for a mortgage. This way you'll know exactly what your price range is before you wander into that perfect house that you fall completely in love with and then realize that you can't afford it. ;)
Done!

2. make sure you have your own realtor, one who is working for you and not you AND the seller.
Done!

3. make sure you have a home inspection.
DEFINATELY, I refuse to buy without one. any purchase will be conditional.

If you're looking for a house that you're going to live in for a good long time, don't discount your gut feeling. That said, when I first walked into my current home, I hated it, but then I saw the kitchen!! Fortunately, I saw past the hideous old-lady wallpaper, the hideous old-lady chintzy furniture and saw the bones of the house and its potential. :) Paint can easily be changed, but as Theresa said, cupboards and countertops are $$$$$.

Also, all other things being equal, if you're thinking resale in the future, 3 bedrooms 2 baths is a lot easier to sell, at least in our area... professional singles, young couples, young families, older couples downsizing, pretty much anyone. My current 2 bedrooms 1 bath, though perfect in size for just me and the boyz, automatically eliminates anyone with kids, or plans for kids. I will never buy another 2 bedroom 1 bath again, even if it were just me and the boyz. ;)

How exciting for you!! Good luck!! :D
Yeah this is the biggest reason I don't want to do a 2 bedroom. I could be happy with it but I KNOW they are hard to resale, so I am looking at 3 bedrooms. Then again, not like the one I saw where yes there are 3 bedrooms but two didn't properly fit a TWIN bed (seriously, the twin took up the entire room).

I can look past bad decor, but some townhomes are set up with no wall (litteraly) to put a tv (even if you wanted to just mount one to avoid putting in a big unit). There just wasn't a wall! So to me that is a weakness in design. On the other hand, the other home had a big wall seperating the kitchen and living area...that might be more workable (not to put the entire wall down but maybe widen the opening or something.

Some things though not ideal are better in the long run, like the unfinished basement. IT brings the price down and gives you room to put fix it as you wish and eventually the resale should be better (higher) as it'll be finished. At the same time, it is NOT something that needs to be done right away.
Thanks!
 
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