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February 2, 2012 by Alison

Love at First Sight…

How are dating and looking for a new home alike? Let me count the ways…

Have you ever had the experience of meeting someone for the first time and they already seem familiar, or you just know you’re going to become close, or perhaps you experience that instant, undeniable chemistry?

For me, looking for a new apartment is a bit like dating… that gut feeling you get when you first meet someone is a lot like the feeling I get when I check out a new apartment… and when it’s right, you just know.

Of course, the right apartment doesn’t come along everyday. At first you may check out a few that look good on paper—right neighborhood, right number of bedrooms—but you see it and it just doesn’t inspire you or perhaps you discover that spacious second bedroom on the listing is actually a dining room. Or maybe you’ve fallen hard for gorgeous hardwood floors or beautiful landscaping, but on second glance you realize good looks just won’t compensate for its location by a noisy highway or with further investigation you realize that gorgeous landscaping is also really high maintenance.

Perhaps you’ve had good friends or real estate agents claim they found the perfect place for you! They’ve seen it and love it and just known you will, too. But often one person’s idea of perfection is not another’s.

You may find yourself spending a lot of time going to open house after open house and hoping that this time, it will be the one. You might even be tempted to settle as you compare your mental list of everything you wanted with what’s actually on the market and start prioritizing what really matters to you… charming features or modern amenities? Great curb appeal or a solid foundation?

In the end, many people will find that when they see their next home, they get that gut feeling right away. You know when you’ve found the right place when the “list” you’ve had of everything you thought you wanted just falls away, the less than perfect features seem manageable or perhaps even charming, and you instantly start imagining your future there.

After looking for over a year and seeing more apartments than I care to count—I just fell in love at first sight. I actually decided I would take my new place while standing in the garage before I had even gone upstairs to see the actual living space. Admittedly, it’s a cool garage/artist’s studio, but I found it funny that after being so picky for such a long time, I knew I was home before I even walked in the front door.

It has many of the features that I wanted, a few features that are missing that I would liked to have had but realized aren’t as important to me as I thought they were, and a few features that I love that I hadn’t even imagined. But in the end, it came down to a simple feeling—a feeling I was home.

Tips When Looking For Your New Home:

1) Don’t discount a place based on pictures alone. So many times places I’ve seen online that don’t look good, turn out to be great—unfortunately the opposite is also true, it’s amazing how good photography can make a room the size of a closet look as big as a football field.

2) Write a list of everything you want and dream of—then let it go. Find some quiet time to daydream about your next home and write down everything you can think of that you’d like to have. We suggest writing in the present tense, like an affirmation. For example, ‘I’m enjoying sitting in my spacious living room with gorgeous views and ocean breezes.’ I wrote a list like this—it’s called creating an ideal scene—and then three days later I found my new home, which had everything I wrote about. Writing your list is a great first step to finding your perfect home so be detailed, but remember not to hold so tightly to your list that you miss something else that could be equally great or even better. For instance, I really wanted two bedrooms, but if I’d only looked at two bedroom apartments, I would have missed the unbelievable loft space I’m now calling home.

3) Identify any deal breakers and stick to them. There are always one or two things that we know don’t make us happy—for example some people can’t stand noise while others can tolerate it. Or one person may need AC, while someone else would give it up if it meant a place by the ocean (if you’re in LA you can appreciate this one as the closer you get to the ocean the less places have central air). If there’s something you know you need, like air conditioning or quiet, stick to your guns and don’t settle. Feeling like I was under time pressure, I once took a place I didn’t love that had one my deal breakers, and the whole time I was there the things that bugged me the first day continued to bug me until the day I moved out—it’s the one apartment I never totally felt at home in. Of course, make sure they truly are deal breakers—again, you don’t want to miss a great place by being too narrow-minded.

4) Communicate with your real estate agent—share your list with him/her—let him know if there are any deal breakers (such as, I have a dog so I need a dog-friendly building) and be clear about where there might be room to compromise (I’d like three bedrooms, but could manage with two if it’s in the neighborhood I love). Your real estate agent can’t read your mind so help him, help you!

5) Get the word out. Let people know you’re looking. You never know when someone’s neighbor or coworker may be moving out of a home that would be perfect for you.

6) Don’t settle. Many times during my search I thought I’d have to settle… the places I liked were out of my price range, or weren’t in the neighborhood I wanted, or the location was perfect, but the place was lacking somehow… I often wondered if perhaps I was just being too picky… but for me, finding the right place was worth the wait. Is my place perfect? Maybe not for everyone—but for me, it’s the perfect match.

If you liked this blog, you may also like:
Designing Your Life
Time to Lighten Up!
The Best Path to a New Home is Embracing Your Current Home

2 Comments to Love at First Sight…

  1. February 3, 2012 at 5:10 pm | Permalink

    Excellent tips for home searching, Alison! We found an apartment we liked but that didn’t have air-conditioning (it was near the ocean); so we went to a home store and found a stand-alone, AC/evaporative cooling system that worked splendidly. Sometimes, an apartments short-comings can be solved!

    • Laura and Alison's Gravatar Laura and Alison
      February 3, 2012 at 10:45 pm | Permalink

      Good point, Dane… always goos to look at the potential beyond what exists currently. Thanks!

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