Finding the Best Home for your Family

by : Martin Lukac

When buying a home, there is often a little give and take. It is rare that a home at the right price in the right place will have everything you are looking for.

For example, we love our new home. It has a great location, perfect land, nice improvements and fits us just right. However, the kitchen is a fourth the size of our old one. I hate it -- half of my cooking essentials are stored in the laundry room/pantry. But because the pros outweighed the cons, I live with it for now.

Buying a home can be very emotional. You want to find a good deal. But you want your dream home. Where do you start?

You should start by looking at the market in your area. You may find that there are only one or two homes that fit your requirements out there for sale. In that case, you probably won't have much negotiating room. The house we recently purchased is a rare find. We contacted the sellers, who weren't sellers at first as the house wasn't even on the market. We just thought we'd ask. We knew we had no room to negotiate as properties in the area are highly sought after.

The more choice you have, the more you can negotiate.

You can often find a good deal by looking into vacant properties. The longer a home sits on the market, the more eager the sellers become to negotiate. If no one is living in the home, it is a good indication that the sellers have already purchased a new home and are looking for a quick sale.

When looking at homes, look for the ones that can be shined up a bit. For example, when you tour a cluttered home, remember that the clutter leaves with the seller. You can make a few changes and have a completely different home. Remember what paint and a little sweat equity will do.

Look beyond decor to the structure of the home. Look at what can be cleaned up. Don't focus on the owner's belongings. Look at the bare bones. You can often find that others don't do this. If you are the only one willing to consider the home, you will have negotiating power.

Even if you don't have children, you should look at the schools in the area. If you ever want to sell the home, this could give you some power. If the schools aren't great and you love the home, use this as a negotiating point with the seller.

Be willing to look at hard to view properties. These are the properties where the showing hours are extremely limited. This translates into fewer people seeing the home. This is good for you. Homes with minimal showings have very few offers.

Remember to keep your emotions in check and look to see if the home has everything you need. Weigh the pros and the cons of the home. Sometimes, the house is a deal, but it just won't fit your family. We once looked at a 800 square foot home on forty acres with highway frontage near a major intersection. It was a bargain. Had a barn and ponds. The house was so small, all of our belongings wouldn't fit. We would have had to live there until a larger home could be built. It was a great deal -- we still talk about that -- but didn't fit our needs.

You have to be aware of what a good deal is to your family, not just your wallet.