We also looked at hundreds online, drove by a LOT of them, and went to about 20 with our realtor. The 2nd house we looked at was the one, but we looked at another 18 first 😉 Every house kept comparing to “The 2nd house.”
For us, we knew we could be like our friends, and get a “move in ready” house that was a little more up to date and nice. But it would be 2-3 bedrooms, 12-1500 sq feet, and in a chaotic not so great neighborhood. We didn’t want a townhouse. We wanted something we could grow into. we BOTH wanted an office so we needed at least 4 br and we both didn’t want under 1600 sq. ft. Oh, and a garage.
The one we found actually has everything we asked for, and more! We found a foreclosure however. Our house at market value is about 60,000 more than what we paid (i.e. other homes in the neighborhood are far out of our reach). We really lucked out, because it was in really good condition and has over 2000 sq feet. We’ve put about 6k into it so far in a new a/c and wood laminate floors throughout… and it’s pretty much up to that value already. We still have a lot of projects to do, but we knew to get the neighborhood, location, and size we wanted we’d have to compromise. Our neighborhood is ridiculously amazing. As our friends put it, “This is the kind of place I expect our friends parents to live, not our friends.”
Basically, you have to look at your price, expectations, and if it IS possible to do. We knew that we could get what we wanted in a foreclosure… so that’s what we were looking at. You need to keep your list to what you can’t live without, (this should be location, bedrooms, and structural things like maybe a garage.) Then a “really would like it to have” list, with things that are easy fixes down the line, Decks, pools, stainless appliances, certain types of floors, granite counters, etc….
Once you really put everything in perspective it will help you. It also helps to know average costs of renovations etc. Most expensive is the kitchen followed by bathrooms. But, that’s where you’ll recoup the most. Floors are SO EASY and can be in-expensive to change.
I really highly suggest looking at the before/after house tour on younghouselove.com. It may help open your eyes to what some paint and elbow grease can do.
Best of luck, and let us know updates on the search!