Buying A Home
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What are your non negotiables when buying a home?

My husband and I will be purchasing a home in October 2015. We have been doing a lot of research and making plans about what areas we want to live in. 

My non negotiables are a backyard with at least enough space for me to cultivate a small vegetable garden. That will be easy to find. I also want more than one bathroom and the second bathroom can be a powder room. 

My husband's only non negotiable is a commute more than 30 minutes away from work. We are moving partly because we would like to cut his commute in half so his one non negotiable makes complete sense. We agree not to buy a home which is smaller than our apartment; we currently live in two bedroom which is approximately 1100 square feet. Again, we won't have any trouble finding a home which is more than 1100 square ft. 

What are your non negotiables? Do you think you will be able to find a home that fits your needs? 
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Re: What are your non negotiables when buying a home?

  • In the school district we are located now, 3 bedrooms, 2 baths and a reasonable place to put our piano.  Generally that would not be a hard thing to find in our area, but because supply is so low and demand is so high, coupled with a tight budget on our part, it's difficult.
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  • Musts for us are:

    Good location, close to our jobs

    Nice backyard

    2 car garage

    Public water/sewer

    2 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms

    Natural gas and central air would be nice

    Ranch style would also be nice

  • We actually bought a new construction house in October.  It won't be completed until May since the community is so new, which works great with our current lease (up in mid-June).  Our non negotiables were:
    - close to public transportation
    - 3 bedrooms
    - 2 bathrooms
    - 1 car garage
    - move-in ready
    - space for entertaining
    - not a condo (detached single family home was ideal) 

    We ended up with townhome and we got all of our non-negotiables plus everything is brand new and our style since we picked it.  We also got a master bathroom, which was a bonus.  We ended up with:
    - walking distance to the subway!
    - 3 bedroom
    - 2 full and 2 half bathrooms
    - open concept rec room (basement) and main floor
    - beautiful kitchen with island and built in hutch
    - 2 car garage
    - almost completely move-in ready (we have to buy ceiling fans and lights for some of the rooms plus we'll want to paint)
    decorchic89juliebeannn
  • Mine were
    No more than a 30 minute commute
    3 bedrooms/2 bathrooms
    Big yard

    DHs were
    Rural setting
    Open plan
    Big yard

    WHere we moved to it was relatively easy to find something that ticked all boxes
  • We may have to bend on the extra bathroom. 

    Some of the older houses in our price range only have one. 

    Two bedrooms would be enough for us because we're a childfree couple. 


  • We bought our house about a year and a half ago.  But our non-negotiables were:

    Public sewer/water
    No inground pool
    At least one car garage with a wide enough driveway to park a 2nd car without moving.
    Not on a busy street
    At least 3 bedrooms and 2 baths
    Yard space (especially after seeing cookie cutter houses one on top of the other)

    We ended up with a 4 bed, 2.5 bath with an above ground pool, public sewer and water, 2 car garage, on a cul-de-sac on 1 acre.  We're happy.  

    I will say that an early non-negotiable that changed with this house was "No oil heating".  The only reason we changed our minds was because it was an above ground tank.  If it were underground, we would have passed.  We hope to convert to gas within a few years.
  • Location: You cannot ever change this. Safe? Good schools? Always thinking resale.

    Non-smoking: I would never, ever by a home that a smoker owned. I am too sensitive to it and what they now call 3rd hand smoke always remains in and on stuff.

    Other than those two - I'm pretty flexible.

    I have preferences, though.

    Bedrooms: All on same level.

    Attached garage.

    Newer mechanicals.

    2+ bathrooms.



  • Ours were:

    Lots of counter space in the kitchen-this was #1!

    Closets

    One bathroom was okay with us, as long as there was the capability to add one later (this is what we ended up with; there's a hookup for a second in the basement)

    Open-ish floor plan

    Enough yard space for a raised bed garden

    Single-family

    Very nice to haves were:

    Garage (got it)

    Gas stove (got it)

    Gas boiler (installed it after purchase)

    Dining room (got it)

    In our price range some compromises had to be made.  We're in a great neighborhood in a city, but the schools aren't considered that great (I'll make my own decision on that when the time comes-test scores aren't everything).  Since it's our forever home, and there is an affordable Catholic school we like down the road in the event we're not comfortable with the public option, this wasn't a huge problem for us.  If we wanted to move again soon and were worried about resale it would have been a bigger issue.  
  • We just closed on our house on New Year's Eve and are in the process of renovations! 

    Our non-negotiable included:
    - Within our budget
    - 3 bedrooms
    - More than 1 bath
    - Good school district
    - Opportunity to put our stamp on it - not move-in ready (for optics as well as budget reasons)

    Since homes in our area are an average list price of $1.5M, we had somewhat limited options because of our budget. However, we were able to purchase a foreclosure that ticked all of our boxes, and are renovating what will become a truly beautiful home with the following:

    - 3 bedrooms, 1.5 baths (half bath in master suite along with cedar closet)
    - 2 acres
    - Working fireplace
    - Hardwood floors throughout with the exception of marble in bathrooms and slate in family room
    - Open concept living space
    - Large kitchen with island
    - Living room + family room with  vaulted ceiling 
    - 2 car garage
    - Central air
    - Great community and school district

    We can't wait to move in!! 
  • First House:
    -Close to the University to eventually turn it into a rental (check)
    -At least 2 bed/2 bath (check)
    -Enough parking for our toys/cars (check)
    -Needs work but can be lived in (check)

    Second House:
    -If in town must be in an older neighborhood, no new cookie cutter (check)
    -No HOA fees (ended up being the compromise)
    -Good schools/resale potential (check)
    -At least 3 bed/2 bath (check: 4 bed/3 bath)
    -First floor master for resale reasons (check)
    -Bigger kitchen with open concept (check)
    -Large lot (check)
    -Fireplace (this was a want for me, I compromised and didn't get it)
    -Garage (check)
    -Room to park all toys/cars (got such a good deal we let this go and store the snowmobiles, camp trailer and boat at another location)
    NoneForUs
  • I am seeing some house listings with more than one bathroom today. 

    The area that we are moving to has many houses that people are not buying because of the rural area.

    This works in our favor. ;)
  • First House:
    -Close to the University to eventually turn it into a rental (check)
    -At least 2 bed/2 bath (check)
    -Enough parking for our toys/cars (check)
    -Needs work but can be lived in (check)

    Second House:
    -If in town must be in an older neighborhood, no new cookie cutter (check)
    -No HOA fees (ended up being the compromise)
    -Good schools/resale potential (check)
    -At least 3 bed/2 bath (check: 4 bed/3 bath)
    -First floor master for resale reasons (check)
    -Bigger kitchen with open concept (check)
    -Large lot (check)
    -Fireplace (this was a want for me, I compromised and didn't get it)
    -Garage (check)
    -Room to park all toys/cars (got such a good deal we let this go and store the snowmobiles, camp trailer and boat at another location)

    A fireplace is a want for me as well. I need a second bathroom but I don't need a fireplace. I can always go buy a beautiful electric one. We must have a garage as well. 
    lovemesomemonster
  • 1. Location for proximity to work.  We plan to homeschool, so schools weren't a concern although we ended up in a good school system.
    2. Lot size bigger than half an acre, but small than an acre and a half.  We didn't want too much to maintain, but I'm used to living in the country with land.  We ended up with .75 acres that borders on conservation land, so it feels like more without the responsibility of it.
    3. H wanted an attached 2 car garage, which wasn't a deal breaker for me, but if we were going to have one, I wanted a ground floor one.  Who wants to lug groceries up a flight a stairs?
    4. Central A/C.  This was mine alone, but I've never lived without it and I don't want to start now.
    5. Eat in kitchen with separate dining room.
    6. Separate living and family room
    7. 3 bedroom house.  We ended up with 4 bedrooms
    8. As many hard surface floors as possible, or money left over to make it so.  I have allergies.  The upstairs had carpet, but the price of the house allowed us to add hardwood throughout.

    None of our wants were for resale purposes.  We have no intention of moving ever, barring some unforeseen circumstances.  This is our "forever house". 

    NoneForUs
  • Ours were in order of priority
    Location, Location, Location
    Price
    3-4 bedrooms.
    2 bathrooms
    Layout
    Cost to renovate to our liking
    Lots of storage
    Basement
    fenced backyard
    fireplace


    We did not get the fireplace I wanted, but got everything else. Price within budget and 60K in renovations later it is perfect!
  • Spin313Spin313
    Tenth Anniversary 10 Comments 5 Love Its Combo Breaker
    member
    edited January 2015
    Ours were:
    - 4 bedrooms
    - 2 full bathrooms
    - good floor plan/sight lines
    - large eating area and/or dining room
    - an attached garage
    - a basement
    - space for a playroom
    - decent yard
    - specific school district
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  • Sisugal said:
    Ours were in order of priority
    Location, Location, Location
    Price
    3-4 bedrooms.
    2 bathrooms
    Layout
    Cost to renovate to our liking
    Lots of storage
    Basement
    fenced backyard
    fireplace


    We did not get the fireplace I wanted, but got everything else. Price within budget and 60K in renovations later it is perfect!
    It's funny how I was taking certain requirements for granted and not even thinking of them. 

    Most of the houses in our price range have fenced backyards so we didn't even consider that. We're not overly concerned about the layout. We know we don't want more than 3 bedrooms because we are a childfree couple with a cat; we don't want a large house that will be more expensive to heat. 


  • Our non-negotiables were living in the city in a "walking community", having a bigger kitchen (we both love to cook), and most importantly, having an affordable mortgage! 

    We achieved all three.  I think a lot of people (not referring to people on this board, just people I know in life) get lost in a huge list of must haves, and by the end they've bought a house that will make them house poor for the rest of their adult lives.  So not worth it!  To me, it's much more important to live in a house that we can afford and still have enough money to save, and enjoy our lives with, after the mortgage payment has been made each month.

    NoneForUsshort+sassy
  • Our non-negotiables were living in the city in a "walking community", having a bigger kitchen (we both love to cook), and most importantly, having an affordable mortgage! 

    We achieved all three.  I think a lot of people (not referring to people on this board, just people I know in life) get lost in a huge list of must haves, and by the end they've bought a house that will make them house poor for the rest of their adult lives.  So not worth it!  To me, it's much more important to live in a house that we can afford and still have enough money to save, and enjoy our lives with, after the mortgage payment has been made each month.

    PREACH! This is why my husband and I have been renters for so long and also why we are moving to a rural area with better house prices. We do not wish to be house poor while living in a tiny condo just so we can stay in the city. 

    I know we can get an affordable house because we don't need a lot of space. I laugh when I see houses for 2400+ square feet listed because two adults and cat just do not need a house that large. 
  • JoanE2012JoanE2012
    500 Comments 100 Love Its Third Anniversary First Answer
    member
    edited January 2015

    Our non-negotiables were living in the city in a "walking community", having a bigger kitchen (we both love to cook), and most importantly, having an affordable mortgage! 

    We achieved all three.  I think a lot of people (not referring to people on this board, just people I know in life) get lost in a huge list of must haves, and by the end they've bought a house that will make them house poor for the rest of their adult lives.  So not worth it!  To me, it's much more important to live in a house that we can afford and still have enough money to save, and enjoy our lives with, after the mortgage payment has been made each month.

    PREACH! This is why my husband and I have been renters for so long and also why we are moving to a rural area with better house prices. We do not wish to be house poor while living in a tiny condo just so we can stay in the city. 

    I know we can get an affordable house because we don't need a lot of space. I laugh when I see houses for 2400+ square feet listed because two adults and cat just do not need a house that large. 
    It's just my DH and I and our house is about 2300 square feet.  I think it's a perfect size for us!  Aside from the master, we use one bedroom as a guest room, one as a an office and one that we'll be making a hobby room.  The main floor has a living and family room (hey, we can each watch separate shows when we want!) and the dining room and large kitchen are perfect for entertaining!

    I will say, I don't think I'd want anything much bigger.  The bigger it is, the more cleaning!
    NoneForUs
  • NoneForUsNoneForUs
    100 Love Its 100 Comments First Anniversary Name Dropper
    member
    edited January 2015
    JoanE2012 said:

    Our non-negotiables were living in the city in a "walking community", having a bigger kitchen (we both love to cook), and most importantly, having an affordable mortgage! 

    We achieved all three.  I think a lot of people (not referring to people on this board, just people I know in life) get lost in a huge list of must haves, and by the end they've bought a house that will make them house poor for the rest of their adult lives.  So not worth it!  To me, it's much more important to live in a house that we can afford and still have enough money to save, and enjoy our lives with, after the mortgage payment has been made each month.

    PREACH! This is why my husband and I have been renters for so long and also why we are moving to a rural area with better house prices. We do not wish to be house poor while living in a tiny condo just so we can stay in the city. 

    I know we can get an affordable house because we don't need a lot of space. I laugh when I see houses for 2400+ square feet listed because two adults and cat just do not need a house that large. 
    It's just my DH and I and our house is about 2300 square feet.  I think it's a perfect size for us!  Aside from the master, we use one bedroom as a guest room, one as a an office and one that we'll be making a hobby room.  The main floor has a living and family room (hey, we can each watch separate shows when we want!) and the dining room and large kitchen are perfect for entertaining!

    I will say, I don't think I'd want anything much bigger.  The bigger it is, the more cleaning!
    I'm glad that your house is the perfect size for you and your husband. I guess it all depends on how much space you need to feel comfortable. 

    Our apartment feels like just enough space, so I know that over 2,000 square feet would be too much. I think my husband and I could be quite comfortable with 1600 square feet.

    Aside from the master bedroom, we will use the second bedroom for guests. We may also put a small bed in the third bedroom or make it into an office. We're not sure yet. A fourth bedroom would not be necessary. 
  • 3 bed, 2 bath, 2 car garage. Kitchen open to family room, big yard, more rural than city. We pretty much got it - just inside city limits, and it cuts our commutes to work in half.

    NoneForUs
  • We wanted at least 1300 square feet, 3+ bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, and a 2 car garage. We also wanted a fenced yard that was at least 4000 square feet (this was hard to find as the lots in our price range were small) since we have a dog and I like to garden. It also had to be in a decent school district, in a specific county (the other county in the area we were looking has higher taxes and due to the nature of my boyfriend's job he didn't want to live in the county he works for). We were looking for A/C too but that was more of a bonus than a non-negotiable.

    We got it all :)


    NoneForUs
  • NoneForUs said:
    Sisugal said:
    Ours were in order of priority
    Location, Location, Location
    Price
    3-4 bedrooms.
    2 bathrooms
    Layout
    Cost to renovate to our liking
    Lots of storage
    Basement
    fenced backyard
    fireplace


    We did not get the fireplace I wanted, but got everything else. Price within budget and 60K in renovations later it is perfect!
    It's funny how I was taking certain requirements for granted and not even thinking of them. 

    Most of the houses in our price range have fenced backyards so we didn't even consider that. We're not overly concerned about the layout. We know we don't want more than 3 bedrooms because we are a childfree couple with a cat; we don't want a large house that will be more expensive to heat. 


    We totally went into house #2 thinking this too.. bigger house = more to heat.. and ended up with 3100sqft for two of us and a 20lb dog. The day we got the keys we just sat in the living room with a bottle of champagne and said to each other "what the heck did we get ourselves into". Now after being in the house for a year we LOVE the space, yeah it's overkill but we are in a vacation destination so lots of people like to visit and it's nice to have 3 extra rooms for people to stay in!
  • NoneForUs said:
    Sisugal said:
    Ours were in order of priority
    Location, Location, Location
    Price
    3-4 bedrooms.
    2 bathrooms
    Layout
    Cost to renovate to our liking
    Lots of storage
    Basement
    fenced backyard
    fireplace


    We did not get the fireplace I wanted, but got everything else. Price within budget and 60K in renovations later it is perfect!
    It's funny how I was taking certain requirements for granted and not even thinking of them. 

    Most of the houses in our price range have fenced backyards so we didn't even consider that. We're not overly concerned about the layout. We know we don't want more than 3 bedrooms because we are a childfree couple with a cat; we don't want a large house that will be more expensive to heat. 


    We totally went into house #2 thinking this too.. bigger house = more to heat.. and ended up with 3100sqft for two of us and a 20lb dog. The day we got the keys we just sat in the living room with a bottle of champagne and said to each other "what the heck did we get ourselves into". Now after being in the house for a year we LOVE the space, yeah it's overkill but we are in a vacation destination so lots of people like to visit and it's nice to have 3 extra rooms for people to stay in!
    Wow, that is a lot of space! Living in a vacation destination and having extra rooms is a great combination though. Heating costs are a big concern since we have long and difficult Canadian winters here....there's more snow up north as well. 

    With three bedrooms, we would have two extra bedrooms for visitors and that is more than enough for us. We aren't interested in a two bedroom home. If we only wanted two bedrooms, we would just buy a condo. 
  • jenpiglet17jenpiglet17
    Fourth Anniversary First Comment
    member
    edited February 2015
    -Public water/sewage
    -Good Schools
    -At least 3 bedrooms
    -Attached garage
    -Updated Kitchen

    Second House, I'm hoping for a master bath and no (or at least less) snow! :) 
  • Our house is about 1500 square feet and we could seriously chop off one entire room that we never use.  Many of our friends own huge houses and they either have no kids or plan on only having one or two kids.  I have a hard time understanding the appeal of a huge house.  To me, it's just more cleaning, a higher mortgage, and likely rooms that will never be use.

    NoneForUs
  • Everyone has such different "non-negotiables"! Its interesting reading all of them. :) Definitely speaks to the uniqueness of everyone and their lifestyles.

    Our non negotiables are:

    No split level

    Not off any busy road (we rent a town home where this is a problem for us)

    2+ bathrooms

    At least a 2 car garage

    And location. We like rural living but we can't be too far from a main hospital (I have a congenital heart defect and he has respiratory issues.) and if we live any more west then we do now, our friends won't come visit us. Plus we like being near them and his family.
  • NoneForUs said:
    NoneForUs said:
    Sisugal said:
    Ours were in order of priority
    Location, Location, Location
    Price
    3-4 bedrooms.
    2 bathrooms
    Layout
    Cost to renovate to our liking
    Lots of storage
    Basement
    fenced backyard
    fireplace


    We did not get the fireplace I wanted, but got everything else. Price within budget and 60K in renovations later it is perfect!
    It's funny how I was taking certain requirements for granted and not even thinking of them. 

    Most of the houses in our price range have fenced backyards so we didn't even consider that. We're not overly concerned about the layout. We know we don't want more than 3 bedrooms because we are a childfree couple with a cat; we don't want a large house that will be more expensive to heat. 


    We totally went into house #2 thinking this too.. bigger house = more to heat.. and ended up with 3100sqft for two of us and a 20lb dog. The day we got the keys we just sat in the living room with a bottle of champagne and said to each other "what the heck did we get ourselves into". Now after being in the house for a year we LOVE the space, yeah it's overkill but we are in a vacation destination so lots of people like to visit and it's nice to have 3 extra rooms for people to stay in!
    Wow, that is a lot of space! Living in a vacation destination and having extra rooms is a great combination though. Heating costs are a big concern since we have long and difficult Canadian winters here....there's more snow up north as well. 

    With three bedrooms, we would have two extra bedrooms for visitors and that is more than enough for us. We aren't interested in a two bedroom home. If we only wanted two bedrooms, we would just buy a condo. 
    We are about an hour from the Canadian border so we feel the awesome winters too.. Our largest bill so far to heat this beast was $220 and that was last month. When we started looking we wanted nothing over 2000sqft, 3bed, 2.5 bath.. we wouldn't have bought this house if it wasn't such a fantastic deal and perfect location for resale. I also work from home so that's probably why I like the space, I feel like I'm "home" when I'm on one floor and "at work" when I'm on another.
  • @lovemesomemonster That must feel great while working from home!

    Based on my research, our utility bills should be $200-$500 a month. I can do laundry once a week and use certain appliances during off peak times. 




  • @NoneForUs Yes it does, and was a big factor when we were looking for houses. Makes a difference when you are wanting a guest room AND an office you will be in every day. Doesn't leave a lot of room for a dual use room like a lot of guest rooms can be :)

    My BEST advice for making your list is to think about how long you will be in the house. Our #1 at this point in our lives is always resale potential, so even if there is something we don't personally love we look at what most people would like. That's what put us in an established neighborhood.. if this had been the "forever" home it would have been in the middle of the woods! If you are looking to only be in the house for say 5 years, be prepared to let some of the specifics you would like go, and get into the location you will be able to sell fast when you are ready to move on.
    NoneForUs
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