Give and Take When Buying a Home

By Anna Comfort

Four areas to compromise and two to stand firm in when buy a home

Whether you’re a first-time homebuyer or looking to relocate, it’s important to set your priorities before house hunting begins.

“Sit down and take some time to rank items you consider to be your top five to seven most important items in searching for a home,” says Robin Pitman of RE/MAX Boone Realty.

Odds are that no house on the market is going to have everything you’re looking for, but that shouldn’t dampen the search. Here are four areas to compromise and two to stand firm in when buying a home

Where to compromise:

1.Paint, lights and other easy fixes

“Don’t be blinded by items that can be easily changed,” Robin says, “including interior and exterior paint, light fixtures, countertops, landscaping and flooring.”

2.Bedroom count

“Some clients will go into a purchase requiring no less than four bedrooms,” says Shannon O’Brien of House of Brokers. “But really, a three-bedroom home with an additional, nonconforming bedroom will work because they intend on using one of those rooms as an office.” Having children share a larger bedroom or converting a space in the basement are also options to consider.

3.Square footage

“It just depends on how the space is allocated,” Shannon says. Basements are usually left out of square footage calculations, so don’t pass on a home based on that number alone.

4.Closing date

“The more flexible a buyer and a seller can be on the closing date, the more they can focus on the monetary issues that really matter,” Shannon says. “It’s a great bargaining chip that you can use in negotiations — and it’s one that would probably matter the least down the road.”


Where to stand firm:


Make sure the area you’re moving to is the right fit for you and your family. Before writing a contract, Robin encourages her clients to drive through the neighborhood in the evening, after neighbors get home from work, to get a feel for the area.

“This helps the buyers decide whether it’s not only the house they wish to call home but also the neighborhood they can feel safe and comfortable in,” she says.

If location is at the top of your priorities because of the school district or a job, Shannon says it may be necessary to compromise on other factors. “If it’s a sought-after school district in a highly competitive price range, then you may have to construct your offer differently or be more flexible on that closing date or offer a little bit more on the price.”


Robin stresses the importance of getting prequalified by a lender before you start to look at houses. That way, you’ll avoid falling in love with a place you can’t afford. After the crucial step of prequalification, “I discuss with buyers what price point they are comfortable with, and sometimes it is a number slightly below the lender’s prequalification amount,” Robin says. “They might want to take annual vacation or have the extra money to put into savings.”