Figuring Out Which Home Is "The One"

Are you on the hunt for your forever home? Whether you’re just beginning or in the final stages of narrowing down your options, read on for our best tips on how to tell if a home is the perfect fit for you.

a couple receiving the keys to their new home
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Jan 21, 2021

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Buying a home is one of the biggest purchases that an individual may make, so it is rightfully known as an extremely intimidating and arduous process. You may feel a flurry of emotions all at once, from being excited to scared out of your mind. With a big decision comes big responsibility, and you want to make sure that you nail the hammer on the head with  this one.

Luckily, taking the leap to buy a home doesn’t have to be so scary! When exploring your options, it does wonders to employ some of the following simple pieces of advice.

In this article, we will show you:

  • Beginning stages: What is so important about a first impression
  • Mid-to-late stages: How to compromise with your partner

First impressions of a home

The science behind a first impression

We’ve all heard the age-old piece of advice that a first impression can make or break you. Oftentimes, we hear this when we’re going to an interview, meeting someone for a date, trying to impress your significant other’s parents, etc. Psychologists have found that our brains make judgments of others within mere seconds.

Most importantly for our purposes, psychologists also tell us that this same split-second judgment-making also applies to other first impressions, such as house-viewing. It’s highly likely that, whether you know it or not, upon seeing a house for the first time, you‘ve already made up your mind. Albeit, this is an instinctual sort of decision-making, but it is nonetheless crucial in your feelings toward a certain house.

When you’re viewing a house for the first time, try  bringing along a journal or device with which you can take notes. Jot down your gut-responses to the house. What adjectives come  to mind? Are they positive or negative? Look back to these notes later in the decision-making process, and trust those impressions.

Essentially, there is hard science behind your first impressions—which means they matter. Don’t discount them!

If you don’t like it now, you won’t like it later

Take the analogy of clothes-shopping for example. You’re in your favorite store, and you pull a bold item from the rack—something you wouldn’t necessarily wear, but you say “what the heck”, and head back to the dressing room to try it on.

But once you’re in the dressing room, wearing that garment, you’re underwhelmed by your lack of enthusiasm, and I love this so much-s, and self-indulgent posing in the mirror.

You’re met with the harsh reality that you don’t like this garment. Do you still buy it, just in case?

Perhaps this analogy is a smidge dramatic, but we’ve all been there before. Sometimes, we feel the need to purchase something regardless of our first impression—which is a huge mistake. Take the clothes-buying advice, “if you don’t like it in the store, you won’t like it later,” and apply it to your house hunt.

If you don’t like it on the first tour, you probably won’t like it later.

Location, location, location

As someone looking on the house market, you’ve undoubtedly heard that “location, location, location,” is the name of the house-buying game.

In fact, according to a 2016 survey, a staggering 56 percent of homeowners fell in love with their property precisely because of the location.

One of the best parts about a first viewing is that you can get a sense of the house’s exact location and its surrounding area. Throughout your lifetime, you’ve probably ascertained the type of environment in which you thrive, so you are the best judge of the location.

When considering location, you might even take into account other factors, such as:

  • How long it takes to get to your workplace from your home
  • If there is public transportation near your home, or if there is parking available
  • Walkability and greenspace in the surrounding area (e.g. for walking the dog, for taking a run)
  • Proximity to friends and family
  • For homebuyers with children, proximity to schools and daycares

Compromising with your partner

According to a 2017 report, “Home Buyer and Seller Generational Trends,” 66 percent of recent home-buyers were married couples (and a sizeable 8 percent were unmarried couples). So, if you’re exploring the house market, there’s a good chance that you’re not just making this decision by yourself, but with a partner.

In 2016, the majority of home-buyers were married couples. However, unmarried couples are buying houses at the highest rate in US history. A headline from CNBC reads: “Millennials create new trend: couples who don’t want to rush to marry, but still want to buy a house.”

Here’s a few tips for  finding “the one” when you have to compromise with a partner.

The price is right

After going through a whirlwind of first impressions, it’ll be time to take a hard look at your financial situation and make a practical decision. When you’re in this stage of the home-buying process, you’ll likely sit down with a broker and talk about narrowing down your options to the confines of your financial range.

Although it may seem like common sense to spend within your means, recently, home-buyers have been spending more on houses.

“Many house hunters who set a price range think little of going beyond it to be closer to work or in a desired neighborhood,” according to Dario Cardile, vice president of growth marketing at

Your budget should be one of your top priorities when you’re buying a home. Identify your budget, and stick to it.

According to USA Today, 40 percent of Millennials and 34 percent of Gen-Xers are going over-budget in house-buying. And oftentimes, over-spending leaves these home-buyers in over their heads in financial distress.

So when you’re considering the practical side of things, take a firm stance on whatever budget you’re working with, and don’t allow yourself to fold too easily.

The home meets both of your needs—not wants

We can take another lesson from the psychology of buying from the Diderot Effect. James Clear, expert in behavioral psychology, author of Atomic Habits, and creator of the Habits Academy, warns us against the Diderot Effect:

“The Diderot Effect states that obtaining a new possession often creates a spiral of consumption which leads you to acquire more new things. As a result, we end up buying things that our previous selves never needed to feel happy or fulfilled.”

Here’s an example: you buy a few weeks’ worth of yoga classes, and suddenly, you find yourself buying hundreds of dollars worth of leggings, mats, blocks, water bottles, and more, just because you feel like you need to have certain stuff to do a thing that  does not require any of it.

Get to know your spending habits, and avoid a spiral of purchases in what is called the “Diderot Effect.” If you buy an expensive house, one that might not be in your budget, you may be inclined to spend even more on unnecessary furniture and appliances.

You might have guessed where this is  headed—but, the exact same logic applies to home-buying.

In the case that you do make the mistake of splurging on a very nice, new home, you may find yourself trapped by the Diderot Effect, filling the lavish space with equally lavish furniture, linens, and tools. All of these items are wants, not needs, despite your feeling that you do need them. Similarly, the home itself may fulfill your wants, but not your needs.

Make sure that both of you keep each other accountable in what you need—not what you want. And conversely, make sure to listen to your partner’s needs when they tell you so, and have trust in them.

The home gives both of you space to grow

Of course, a huge part of deciding what home to buy is whether it fits your current lifestyle needs. However, it doesn’t hurt—especially if you and your partner are in for the long haul—to think about the future.

When you’re thinking about the future of your home, consider the following:

  • Can you really picture yourself and your partner living in this home for several years in the future, beyond any sort of initial “honeymoon” phase?
  • Will you be able to renovate and add new features to your home (immediately, or in the future), if need be?
  • Are you and your partner planning on starting a family? If so, can you imagine your children living in this home?
  • Does the space allow you to finally start the freelancing or hobbies that you’ve always wanted to do?

In the end—trust your instincts.

You know yourself better than you might think.

A home is a space for you—and your partner or children, potentially—not anyone else. You truly have the best perspective and opinion on what will make you happiest, fit your financial budget, and fulfill your needs. So, don’t let yourself get hung up on others’ advice or dreams when you have your own impressions and dreams to consider.

If you’ve checked off all the other tips on the list, and you need that last boost of encouragement to make the big decision—get excited! Imagine yourself living in your home. You’re happy, your budget is happy, your needs are happy. What more advice do you need than that?

Still haven’t found that perfect fit?

HER, REALTORS® has you covered.

Check out HER, REALTORS®’ selection of amazing property in Ohio.

July 15, 2019
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