The search for a new home is both an emotional and rational journey, usually ending in compromise. We start off knowing just what our dream house will be like but, usually, the practicalities of the housing market and our budget kick in fairly soon. Even with a huge budget dream homes rarely exist because they are such personal spaces and one person’s idea of a dream home doesn’t usually match another’s – or if it does it is not on the market or is outside our budget.
However, there are plenty of good homes around with great potential – if only we could see beyond the surface. Buying a home is a conflicting experience with our rational selves competing with our emotions. Sometimes the heart wins and sometimes the head; it depends on the person or persons buying and on the individual property. Hopefully, if you are buying with a partner then you can both come to an agreement about the best home to buy (let’s perhaps not call it compromise).
But whether you are buying on your own or with someone else and whether you have a large budget or not, if you can find a home with hidden potential (and, of course, spot the potential) then you are likely to end up with a better home for your money once you have stamped your mark on it.
Sometimes you don’t have the luxury of looking for hidden potential and then working to develop that potential but if you do then here are some top tips for spotting that hidden gem. After all if you can create a home worth more than you paid for it then you are one step closer to that elusive dream home.
Cheaper than other houses in a similar location
The current state of some homes is so off-putting for many buyers that it has to be marketed at a discount. But if you have the time and energy (and some spare cash, at least) then the homes with nothing cosmetically appealing about them can be great investments. However, do get some quotes from builders and tradesmen so you have an idea what it will cost to bring the property up to scratch
Sometimes homes are cheaper because they have a downside that you cannot put right, such as a garden overlooking an industrial estate or a house very close to a busy road so don’t assume that a house being sold cheaply does have hidden potential – it may not.
Sometimes the homes to look for are not discounted but have languished on the market for a long time. In this case you may be able to negotiate a substantial discount off the asking price.
Not every home with purple flock wallpaper, a brown bathroom suite and orange flowery carpet will have potential but many do so try and look beyond the cosmetic appearance to the underlying structure of the house, the room sizes and general location.
Also look at the general state of repair – if a home has been well maintained but just not decorated or updated for 20 years then there could be potential there. But if it has been generally neglected then it may end up being a money pit rather than a good investment.
Remember the majority of buyers are either not interested in bringing out hidden potential or can’t spot it in the first place.
Few photos online
Many buyers will simply not view a home that does not have a good selection of photos online. This is , let’s face it, probably because the interiors or exterior are unappealing but if you are prepared to view it, and it does have potential, this fact will put you in a stronger position to negotiate a discount.
For this reason, actively seek out those homes with few photos or bad photos that meet your criteria in terms of number of bedrooms, bathrooms and square footage.
Be flexible on location
Don’t be too set on a particular location – many areas can be expensive when locations less than a mile away can be much cheaper. Sometimes it is understandable why one area is cheaper than a nearby location but often it is just post code snobbery so take a look at a wide area and don’t limit your chances of finding a place with hidden potential.