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When looking for a home, you might try to find one with some character, that is markedly different from other houses in its location, design, or history. If you dream of owning a unique home, however, there are a few things to consider before making an offer.
If you are like many people, you love the idea of living in a one-of-a-kind home. However, there is no denying the fact that what strikes one buyer’s fancy may not appeal to another. And even though more standard-style houses may not necessarily pique your interest, there is a reason traditional or cookie-cutter homes are so popular—they check a lot of boxes for most people and are ideal for post-purchase customization or personalization.
That said, you need to consider more than just the style and design of a home when purchasing unique properties or homes “with character”. What really makes a home unique, and how can you know it will stand the test of time? To better assist you on your one-of-a-kind house hunt, let’s go over some of the things you should consider with this particular type of real estate.
Buying a unique property isn’t for everyone. It takes a bit of an adventurous spirit. You’ll need to make sure that you can keep up with some of the special attention that a unique home may require so you’ll be prepared for whatever may come your way.
A big factor that holds people back from buying a house with character is the higher maintenance and upkeep costs that a unique property may come with. It is important to consider the overall maintenance, possible repairs, unusual or historic renovations that may need to be made, and all the associated costs.
A prime example of this is when your future home’s interior has custom pieces or home systems. Here, if something needs to be repaired, chances are you cannot run to your local hardware store for parts. More often than not, you may have to special order parts, which can be a process in itself—waiting for shipments, paying higher costs, and more. Make sure that you keep in mind that your unique home purchase might involve a little more elbow grease and additional resources when it comes to the cost of maintenance or repairs.
Besides possible higher upkeep expenses, home renovation costs can also go up with a unique property or house. For instance, if the home’s master bedroom features ornate woodwork on the walls, you may have trouble finding a skilled carpenter to restore it to its original condition.
Along those same lines, you may run into issues if your future piece of real estate is in a protected or historic district. Buying a historic home means any renovations may have to go through a city permit process (as any changes to the exterior and interior of the house may require prior approval). Before you decide on any particular home, you should make it a point to talk to the current owner, HOA, and your real estate agent or realtor to see if the property is protected or if you will need approvals for any changes. This is especially good to know if you have DIY inclinations, as some associations require owners to work with contractors with specific licensing.
Yet another crucial item to consider with unique or unusual properties is your neighbors. Remember, even if your rare home works well with the overall esthetics of the neighborhood, some neighbors may be less than thrilled about a non-cookie-cutter house located in their otherwise very traditional neighborhood. This can lead to issues with people who otherwise have nothing to do with you. Consequently, if you are planning to move into a rare dream house, make sure you consider the surrounding homeowners’ overall consensus regarding the area beforehand.
In addition to being mindful of the neighborhood and your neighbors, you should also consider your lifestyle along with potential life changes. The idea of living in an old church with huge stunning stained glass windows, hardwood floors, and an old-world ambiance may sound cool when it is just you, but if you are planning on a family, it might not be the easiest place to babyproof.
Likewise, you want to embrace the tiny house movement, but now that means you are looking at homes for sale that offer less than 265-square feet of living space. A house with this square footage may not have enough room for your spouse, pets, a home office, or even a real dining room. If you need more space, you may want to keep searching for your future home. To avoid this dilemma while house hunting, remember that life and your priorities can change on a dime. Thus, it is in your best interest to make sure that your unique future abode has the potential to grow with you.
Once you have thought long and hard about everything noted so far, you should also consider what it will mean if you ever need to sell a home that stands out, and what it will ultimately mean for your future plans. As briefly mentioned, what works for some does not necessarily work for others. Selling a home that is unique will likely involve a little more work than a traditional home sale. Likewise, you should not be surprised if and when your property stays on the market (even a hot seller’s market) a little longer than average before it is sold. Typically, custom homes for sale that are considered to have character tend to have a smaller pool of buyers.
You might need to prepare yourself for offers that are less than or different than what you were expecting. In this instance, if you put a lot of money into the customization, upgrades, design, and decor, you may inadvertently reduce your home’s resale value. Interested buyers may have a hard time securing financing or getting a standard appraisal due to building codes and notably custom/special features. These are just a few hiccups that could occur when selling an unusual property.
If you know your dream home will be unique, then you will have to prepare for a few potential hurdles yourself. For instance, you may have possible difficulty finding a lender or your overall mortgage process may go from streamlined to requiring a more customized approach. The good news is that you can improve your chances of getting approved for a mortgage if you are looking at unique homes by simply putting more money down. This will help increase your home equity and reduce the amount of money you will need to borrow.
If you prepare now for purchasing a unique home, then you should have no trouble navigating the home buying or mortgage process. Note that finding the right inspector, securing insurance, and getting an appraisal will likely also involve a little extra research. Still, these potential hurdles are fairly easy to overcome with the right assistance.
Ultimately, these are all important factors to keep in mind when buying a house with character. If you are considering purchasing a custom home that is a bit on the nontraditional side, by all means, do not let these guidelines deter you. Instead, use these considerations and possible hurdles to help you become better prepared for owning a unique home. Consider what life in the unique house of your choice would really require. Calculate how much money it will cost to maintain this place over time. And remember that your home is an extension of yourself, so buying one that reflects your personal taste and style is never a bad choice.
Are you curious about mortgages, or would you like to know more about the home buying process for a unique home? If so, Sammamish Mortgage can help. We are a local mortgage company from Bellevue, Washington, serving the entire state, as well as Oregon, Idaho, and Colorado. We offer many mortgage programs to buyers all over the Pacific Northwest and have been doing so since 1992. Contact us today with any questions you have about mortgages.
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