What to Ignore When House Hunting

Amanda Bell
Written by Amanda Bell
Updated April 23, 2015
wallpapered kitchen
Try to look past the current homeowner's decor if the style doesn't match up with yours. (Photo courtesy of Angi member Margie Shipp of Edgewood, Kentucky)

When you start looking for a new house, you have to put your blinders on — to an extent.

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Don’t let a bad paint job or outdated flooring steer you away from a house that might otherwise be your dream home. If properties in your price range have less than desirable features, take solace in knowing that few of them are permanent.

Here are some things you can overlook in your home search to stay within your budget.

Paint colors

Lime green may not have been your first choice of colors for a kitchen, but painting is an easy and cheap project. An unfortunate color choice can quickly be covered by a shade that’s more to your liking. If you don’t want to do it yourself, you can always hire a painter to do it for you!

Hardware and light fixtures

Don’t let brass doorknobs and dated light fixtures be a deal breaker for a home that otherwise meets your must-have criteria, says David Kevitch, principal broker at Wasatch Homes and Estates in Salt Lake City.

“Small things, like hardware, knobs, hinges and light fixtures are pretty cheap to fix up,” he says.

Outdated interior home features

You can easily swap shagadelic carpet and totally '80s popcorn ceilings for more modern options.

Resurface bathtubs, sinks and countertops as a temporary fix until you can afford the real thing,” Kevitch says.

If you can, schedule to have floors and ceilings redone before you move in — they can be labor-intensive and messy jobs.

The home's age

Don’t let a home’s advanced age deter you. Krista Meili, a broker at John L. Scott Real Estate in Portland, Oregon, points out that many older homes were built with quality materials and craftsmanship.

“Older homes have great workmanship, and some buyers are drawn to the character that comes with that,” she says.

Newer doesn’t always mean better, either, because some recently built homes that seem like a good deal were erected with slapdash materials and construction.

Lack of curb appeal

If a potential buy has an overgrown lawn and a weed patch lining the porch, you may not experience the “wow” factor immediately. But try to imagine it with new flower beds and other landscaping TLC.

Bonus: experts say lackluster curb appeal can help lower a home’s price point, giving you more green to update your new home’s greenery.

Things to keep in mind when house hunting

Bad neighbors

If you notice major deferred maintenance next door to the home you’re considering, steer clear, says Brian Pakulla, a Realtor at Pakulla Professionals RE/Max Advantage Realty in Ellicott City, Maryland.

“You can’t change how your neighbors are going to be,” he says. “If they destroy their house, it can decrease your home’s resale value.”

Bad smells

As a general rule, use your discretion when pondering a pungent property.

"There’s no guarantee cat urine or cigarette smoke odors will disappear even if you deep clean the house before moving in," Pakulla says.

Mold and mildew also prove tough to contend with, and could indicate larger problems..

Bad layout

It’s possible to change a home’s layout, but major modifications — like adding a level or expanding the floorplan — require permits. Kevitch advises consulting the county permitting office to learn about local building regulations before buying a property that needs a significant overhaul.

“You need to like the bones of the house,” Meili says. “You can change the layout, but it can get expensive.”

Hiring an architect to complete a feasibility study can also help determine whether a project’s worth doing.

Did you have a hard time overlooking certain aspects of a house while you were hunting? Tell us about it in the comments section below.

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