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3 Tactics and Trade-Offs for Finding “the One”

Compromises are as much a part of home buying as getting the keys — but make yours wisely.

When starting the house-hunting process, most buyers are starry-eyed optimists convinced they’ll find the perfect home for their family at a reasonable price. With any luck, it’ll even come with a self-cleaning pool, a two-story walk-in closet, and a magical mirror that erases inches from their waistline. Then reality hits.

Compromises are as much a part of the home-buying journey as getting the keys. Here at Trulia HQ, we’ve heard stories from hundreds of users about every difficult real estate decision you can imagine. We’ve compiled a few of the most common home-buying hang-ups, the trade-offs they often entail, and some tactics for how to get through them:

The Hang-Up: Walking into an open house and wanting to turn right around and walk back out. Did you see that shag carpet? Deal breaker.

The Trade-Off: Modern design or good bones?

The Tactic: This piece of advice is so often repeated that it’s almost cliché, but it’s really important, so we’ll say it again: Focus on the aspects of the home that are permanent — the layout, the location, the exposure to natural light — and ignore the cosmetic issues that are easily swapped out — the carpet, the wallpaper, and that strange smell. These problems are only skin-deep, and if you’re being too superficial, you’re likely to miss out on “the one.”
The Hang-Up: Finding an incredible house with everything you want … in the exact wrong location.

The Trade-Off: Tricked-out house or safe, convenient neighborhood?

The Tactic: Do your homework. Calculate how much time (and money) you’d lose to a daily commute, look into the actual crime rate for the area, and think about how the neighborhood will affect your home’s resale value — is this area undergoing a renaissance, or are you likely to continue to be the nicest house on the block? Location is a huge deal worthy of your attention because you don’t just marry the house, you marry the neighborhood.
The Hang-Up: Falling fast and hard in love with a big, beautiful house, only to realize that it’s out of your price range. There’s no such thing as a free lunch square foot.

The Trade-Off: Bigger space or smaller mortgage?

The Tactic: Ask yourself the hard questions. That formal dining room is divine and it would be great to have an extra bedroom, but how many dinner and houseguests did you really have last year? What could you do with that extra money? What would you miss out on if you went over budget? You may decide that your family could legitimately use the extra square footage — you can’t put the new baby in the pantry, after all. But remember, folks, bigger is not always better.


What hang-ups and trade-offs did you face in your home-buying journey? Tell us in the comments below.

Did you like the “Home-Buying Moment” illustrations? Check out more here.