If you want a yard in Seattle, you’ll have to be prepared to spend a lot more than for the same nice house in Edmonds with a yard. On the other hand, with a lot less yard you can probably find as nice a house much nearer to the center of the city. Or if you’re on a limited budget but you’d really love to live in the highly sought-after neighborhood of Queen Anne with all those lifestyle amenities, you might be able to do so by deciding not to keep a car, and choosing one of the condos which does not come with parking – that could just put it within your price range. Or if you just love those 1900’s character homes, you may as well make up your mind that they all have at one time or another been liberally covered with lead based paint, and either go with a home that is bound to have some traces of said paint, or choose a home built after 1979 when they stopped using it.
I worked with one couple where the husband really wanted a new home, or at least no more than ten years old. He just thought that it would save them so very much time and trouble in the long run by simply buying a newer house. What he failed to realize was that in Lake Forest Park where they’d lived several years already, there are very few newly built homes. As an expensive community with great schools there are valuable older homes and not really room for new lots or houses. If a developer does manage to get a lot, he is likely to build a high end home and maximize his profit, whereas my clients wanted to keep their purchase under $400,000. There are a good selection of nicely remodeled older homes in their area at that price. They eventually chose to move to Bothell where there are several developments of new homes, and the schools have a great reputation. What they gave up was a yard (those new construction homes tend to be on small lots) for their three boys to play in, their school, their friends, and the boys’ friends. What they got was a nice new modern craftsman with a clean two-car garage, granite coutertops and large closets, and a room for each boy and an office for Dad too.
These are not easy choices but they will be necessary as you begin to approach the task of defining what home is for you. Even my clients who are ready to spend several million dollars on a beautiful and unique waterfront home seem to have every bit as much challenge in finding the right set of elements in the same place under one roof, and hopefully a roof that will not need to be replaced in the near future. And I myself, while my family was in the process of having a custom home built for us, was told by my wise older friends, “Oh, they say you have to have a home built for yourself three times before you really get it right. The first one is a learning experience.” Well said, and so true, as my husband and I found out after living in the home we’d worked so hard to shape to perfection in the planning phase. Not that it was bad, just that it wasn’t perfect.
So, take a deep breath, decide what your budget is and what elements are going to make your home right for you, talk it over slowly and in depth with your agent and be prepared to listen to a few words about what can be found where and at what cost, and start finding out what elements make your home right for you in the beautiful Northwest, and what you might be willing to give up to make sure those essentials are in place. If you’re a couple, this is a process you will have to do together, so the more you go over hypothetical homes to start out with, the easier it will be to recognize “the one” when you finally see it.