What to compromise on when buying a house or apartment

Nearly all of the buyers we come across have had to decide what to compromise on when buying a house or apartment to live in. I think it is human nature to aspire to what we can’t afford, so it can be a challenging process to come down to earth and be realistic about the limitations of our budget.

Let’s face it, the quicker you can work out what you should compromise on, the quicker you will be settled into your new home. Of course, this is easier said than done, which is why we have created a simple method for working out what is most important to focus on when buying a house or apartment. By going through this process, our clients save months (and sometimes years) of fruitless searching and arguments (if you are buying with a partner).

There are three elements to any property search (Property, Position, Price – we call them “the 3Ps”) and we find that typically one of these “Ps” will need to flex the most. We can help you navigate this process and if you’d like to work with us, our Getting Started Session will help determine which “P” is the one for you to focus on.

What’s wonderful about this job is that each and every client is different. We never know at the outset where the deal breakers will be. The level of complexity rises when we are working with a couple, as there are always areas of difference that have to be sorted out (some greater than others…). Often people try to agree on what they’ll compromise on before they start their property search. While this is admirable, it’s fraught with danger because the starting point needs to be a reality check. You need to completely understand the options available to you before you decide on what can give.

The best place to start is to look at the links of everything that sold over the past 3-6 months that fulfil your requirements. Ideally you should do a “drive-by” of every property that you think could have passed muster.

Then ask yourself this question: would you have bought any of them? If the answer is yes, then congratulations, because you are one of a very select group of people who can afford to buy exactly what you want in your ideal location. If you are like the rest of us, you’ll need to consider each of those “3Ps” in order to work out what to compromise on when buying a house or apartment.

Tackle price first.

How much more money would you need to add to your budget to be able to afford your dream home? Is it achievable? Sometimes we set our budget at what we feel comfortable spending, or around what we think should be reasonable. Are you being too conservative? Do you need to stretch yourself? If so, you may as well do it now. If you can’t afford to push the budget or you are not prepared to, then move to the next “P”.

Let’s look at the property characteristics.

Perhaps you need to surrender the requirement for off street parking or that spare bedroom (how often do guests really come to stay???) or the ensuite bathroom (maybe a second WC in the laundry will suffice). Or maybe you can live with that dated kitchen or bathroom for 5 years. Would a townhouse do instead of a house? The house or apartment decision is one that will come up if you’re priced out of your ideal location and you really do not want to relocate.

This is all about asking yourself how important location is and what you’re prepared to compromise on in order to live in your ideal suburb. If you absolutely, positively cannot compromise on the size, style, scale or condition of the property, then it’s time to reconsider the position.

Location, Location, Location.

Sometimes it is as simple as widening the search area. Many buyers are comfortable looking in an area that they are familiar with, such as the suburb they already live in. If it looks like the budget won’t stretch to your dream home in your desired location, we encourage you to identify what it is that you like about your current locale and see where else you may be able to create a similar experience. Is it the transport links? The surrounding countryside? The dominant architectural style? The local shopping centre? Good schools? Your nearby friends? Of course, the latter will be the toughest to replicate…

Go on some weekend excursions to check out other suburbs that might fit the bill. Hang where the locals hang to get a feel for the area. Test out the commute to work.

Whatever it is that you end up relinquishing, the quicker you decide what to compromise on when buying a house or apartment, the quicker you will find yourself in your new home. The only alternative is to go back to step one and find yourself some more money. Or you could book a Getting Started Session and save months of your own time!

Further reading:

When Is The Best Time To Buy A Property And Stop Looking?

5 Golden Steps To Follow When Buying A Home

How to survive buying a home with a partner

First published:- 22 October, 2010
Updated – 4 February 2018

DISCLAIMER: Good Deeds buyers tips are intended to be of a general nature. Please contact us for advice that is specific to your individual circumstances. You may also need to get advice from other professionals such as an accountant, mortgage broker, financial planner or solicitor.

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