David Metzdorf | Somerville Real Estate, Cambridge Real Estate, Burlington Real Estate


In the quest to find a new home that you love, there are two fundamental things you must know: how much you can realistically afford to spend and what you need to be happy.

Qualifying for a mortgage is one of the first hurdles on the road to home ownership, but loan approval doesn't necessarily mean you can comfortably afford a house you have your eye on.

There are other expenses to factor into the equation, such as closing costs, the down payment, school and property taxes, possible HOA fees, and maintenance costs.

If a house you're considering needs a lot of repairs, updating, and decorating, for instance, those projects could take a big bite out of your bank account and household budget. First-time home buyers and growing families moving into larger homes often have to consider the cost of furniture, new window treatments, and painting supplies. People moving from an apartment or condo to a house may also need to buy a lawnmower, tools, and property maintenance machinery (weed whackers, leaf blowers, snow blowers, etc.)

Once you've determined that you can absorb all those costs without being "house poor," the next step is creating a list of requirements, preferences, and lifestyle goals. For example, if privacy is important to you, you'll need to narrow your search to homes that have a sufficient amount of frontage and space between neighbors and streets. Fences, privacy hedges, and mature trees could also help provide you with the kind of living environment you're looking for.

While the emotional appeal of a house is an important aspect of home-buying decisions, the location of a property and the amount of living space it provides will play a central role in your level of satisfaction. In addition to having enough bedrooms, bathrooms, and storage space, you may also want to consider things like the home's architectural style and whether the floorplan is to your liking.

Many families prioritize the quality of the school district, the look and feel of the neighborhood, and the distance from shopping centers, recreation, and needed services. Also highly desirable is a daily commute to work that isn't too grueling or time consuming!

Since everyone has different goals and needs when it comes to finding the ideal home, there's no one-size-fits-all strategy for zeroing in on the house of your dreams. Although there are a lot of websites that provide great ideas on everything from flooring and countertops to cabinetry and room color, having your real estate agent show you houses that match your specifications is the most productive thing you can do.

Getting out there and physically viewing and walking through houses in your price range will eventually lead you to the home that's just right for you and your family. It's a process in which you need to immerse yourself, but with a little persistence and a clear idea of what you want, you're sure to find the home that checks off most (if not all) of the boxes on your priority and wish lists!


Whether you're looking for your first house or getting ready to relocate for the fifth time, house hunting can wear you down after a while!

Not only can it be difficult to coordinate real estate appointments with work obligations and the demands of parenthood, but your stress level is compounded if you're on any kind of time table or deadline.

The secret to survival is to maintain a positive attitude, do your best to remain solution oriented, and work with a proactive real estate agent. A seasoned real estate agent who is familiar with the local market and is skilled at matching client needs to available housing inventory in the area can be your most valuable resource.

Know What You Want

One of the primary ways you can help your agent find your ideal home is to give a lot of thought to exactly what you want. When you're clear in your own mind about what would satisfy you, in terms of location, architectural style, and property size, then it will be a lot easier to refine your search and stay on target. Not only will that help your real estate agent match your specifications to available listings, but it will also help you recognize your ideal house when you see it.

A good starting point is to have a checklist of priorities, essential property features, and preferences that are important to you, your spouse, and your children. Deciding on must-have features as early in the process as possible can provide you with needed focus and momentum as you compare houses and view real estate listings. Although nothing is "carved in stone" and you can always revise your priority list, it can be a valuable tool for both you and your agent.

While everyone has different needs and wish lists, items to give some thought to may include a finished basement, a working fireplace, a two-car garage, a patio or deck, a screened in porch, a spacious back yard, a storage shed, outdoor security lighting, a sufficient number of bedrooms and bathrooms to accommodate your immediate family and overnight guests, an abundance of storage space, short commutes to work, and proximity to shopping, essential services, and a well-rated school district.

Some couples have specific architectural styles in mind when they go house hunting, such as Colonial, Contemporary, Craftsman, Tudor, Victorian, and Art Deco. It's also helpful to have a clear idea, and hopefully be in agreement with your partner, about how much decorating, renovating, and fixing up you're willing, ready, and able to do. Knowing how much privacy you must have, the peace and quiet you expect, and the recreational facilities you want access to are other key elements of "the big picture."

Although the biggest hurdle may be staying motivated and optimistic in the face of temporary setbacks and discouragements, when you have a clear idea of what you want and an attitude of positive expectation, you'll be surprised at what you can accomplish!


Although you may be tempted to spontaneously make an offer on a house that triggers happy memories of your childhood, it's usually best to approach house buying in a methodical, dispassionate way.

Your emotions will come into play as you visit different listings, but they should be tempered by a realistic budget, a list of personal requirements, and a sprinkling of "wish list" items -- ones that will help make your new home extra special!

A lot will depend on whether you're a first-time home buyer or a seasoned home owner. In all likelihood, the more houses you've owned, the higher your expectations will be. That's certainly not a hard-and-fast rule, but it does lend itself to reason. As is the case with most things in life, experience tends to clarify our needs, our tolerances, our quality standards, and our lifestyle preferences.

Buying a home is a huge decision for two reasons: It not only impacts our financial situation (both immediate and long term), but it effects our quality of life for the foreseeable future. So, similar to the institution of marriage, buying a house is a commitment that should not be taken lightly!

Fortunately, there are several effective ways to help ensure that the home you buy will live up to your expectations. One of the most steadfast "anchors" you can have in your search for the ideal home is a seasoned real estate agent. They have the training, knowledge, and communication skills to help you find the house, the right property, and the optimal location that will best suit your needs.

Your agent will work closely with you to create a list of house hunting requirements and preferences. Although the location, school district, and number of bedrooms will probably have a major bearing on your decision, there are literally dozens of other features and characteristics that will influence your final choice. Among those will be square footage, number of bathrooms, and the property's tax rate.

Standard checklists that include a wide range of home buyer requirements are available online and through your real estate agent. These checklists will help you rank each house you visit and objectively compare the homes you like the best. While flexibility is a necessary part of a successful house-hunting campaign, there will invariably be items you won't want to compromise on.

By deciding in advance what your new home should include, you'll create a clear vision of the type of living environment you and your family will find the most satisfying. Whether you're looking for a home with an open floor plan, a screened-in porch, one or more fireplaces, a finished basement, a two-car garage, or ample space between neighbors, getting your requirements down on paper is the first step to turning your house-buying goals into reality!


When it comes to finding your dream home, your vision is going to be both unique and personal.

For many people, their idea of a dream home may be a composite of the home they grew up in and other mental snapshots they accumulated over the years.

In some cases, the house of your dreams may bear little or no resemblance to the image you conjured up in your mind. Sometimes, you just instinctively know the right home when you see it -- even if it's not exactly the one you originally envisioned.

A good starting point for launching your home search is to develop a detailed priority list. It should consist of both "must have" characteristics and "wish list" items. Hopefully, you and your spouse (or partner) will be in full agreement on most of the important features of your next home, such as whether you want a ranch house or colonial. Being on the same page in terms of location can also make a big difference in how satisfied you both are with your real estate purchase. As an example: Someone's going to less than thrilled if, let's say, you want a townhouse in the city, while your spouse has their heart set on a Craftsman-style home in the suburbs!

Trends in Home-Buying Preferences

If you're a member of the so-called "millennial" generation, your top priority in a new home would probably be the quality of the neighborhood. That's according to a "Home Buyer and Seller Generational Trends Report" (2015) compiled by the National Association of Realtors. In order of importance, factors influencing home purchasing choices are: the convenience of the home to one's job(s), overall affordability, access to friends and family, and the quality of schools in the district.

Many buyers in that same demographic are also leaning toward homes that are energy efficient, ones that offer "smart home" capabilities, and dwellings that include a space that can be used as a home office. Since nearly 40% of Americans telecommute for their jobs on at least a part-time basis, more and more home buyers are adding that requirement to their priority lists. Surveys have also shown that prospective homeowners in their twenties and thirties are opting for low-maintenance surfaces, such as flooring, counter tops, and backyard decks. Updated interiors are also a strong preference for many in that age group since they don't have the extra money, time, or inclination to get involved in major renovation projects.

Other factors which belong on house-hunting priority lists include square footage, number of bedrooms and bathrooms, and the size of the yard. If privacy and noise levels are concerns, then key factors to consider would be fencing, trees and hedges, and the amount of space between houses.

While it's not always possible to find a home that includes every single item on your wish list, an experienced real estate agent can help you find what you want and match your requirements with the available listings in your desired neighborhoods.




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