Play the Game of Nines!
Before house hunting, make a list of 9 things you want in your new home and 9 things you do not want. I call this “Nine of This and None of That.” You can use this list as a scorecard to rate each property you tour.
The house, loft, condo or TIC with the most things you want, wins!
Why bother making this list?
Having a concrete list you can refer back to helps avoid confusion and keeps things in perspective as you compare homes. You may see anywhere from 5 to 50 properties so it can get a little overwhelming.
By using your list, you will help target your search to only the most likely candidates and thus make your house hunting experience more enjoyable.
On that note, when you are out viewing homes, keep in mind the essential difference between SKIN AND BONES. The BONES are things that cannot be changed, such as the location, view, size of lot, noise in the area, and basic orientation/layout. The SKIN represents the most easily changed surface finishes, like flooring, counter tops, appliances, wallpaper, paint color, and window coverings.
Buy the house with the good BONES, because the SKIN can always be changed to match your tastes. I always recommend you view each property as if it were vacant. Consider each home on its underlying merits, not the sellers decorating skills. (Or lack thereof!)
In San Francisco, this is especially true. Sometimes, the best house for you is the beautiful staged one with the best marketing but sometimes….the best house for you is the cluttered, dusty one full of Granny’s plastic-covered sofas and tchotchkes It’s so important to view all of them rationally. The shag carpeting can be replaced!
And of course, take off your “renter’s cap” put on your “owner’s cap.” In other words, view property through the eyes of an empowered owner, not the restricted tenant!