I’m a Real Estate Agent: 6 Signs You Won’t Like That House

For most Americans, a home is the biggest purchase they make in their lifetimes, and mortgage payments typically take up the biggest percentage of the family budget. The numbers don’t lie — acording to the economic data site FRED (Federal Reserve Economic Data), the median sale price of houses sold in October 2023 was over $431,000. When you’re paying that kind of money and spending the hours it takes to shop for and close on a property, you want to make sure you find a place that you love.

Unfortunately, buyer’s remorse does exist in the real estate market. The good news, though, is that you can avoid it if you know what you’re looking for and what you don’t want. According to Michael Saladrigas, a realtor at Xcellence Realty in Florida, finding a home that suits your lifestyle should be your top priority when buying a house (“I often joke that my job is to talk buyers out of homes because I want them to find a property they love”).

Saladrigas shared with GOBankingRates his top signs you won’t like that house and should continue your search:

1. It’s Too Expensive

The lender will give you a maximum loan amount, but that figure should not determine your house budget.

“A lender looks at your income and credit history,” says Saladrigas. “They don’t know anything about your monthly budget beyond the numbers in front of them.” He goes on to explain that stretching your budget can create a stressful situation when you’re hit with a surprise bill like a water leak or medical expense that you can’t pay because your mortgage payment is too high. “Buyers should make sure they can comfortably pay the monthly payment, including taxes and insurance,” he adds. Ideally, you should also be able to set aside money for those inevitable surprises.

2. The Yard is Too Big (or Too Small)

A single-family home is more than a house — it comes with a lot that also has to be maintained.

“If you’re not home enough to cut the grass or don’t like working outdoors, a big yard will probably be a big headache,” says Saladrigas. Lawn care provider Lawn Love estimates that homeowners spend about four hours per week on average taking care of their yards. Of course, you can hire someone else to do the work for you if you can spare the expense (the national average for a cut is around $120).

On the other hand, if you have a green thumb and are looking forward to tending to a garden or creating outdoor living spaces, you may not be happy in a condo with little to no yard.

3. More Maintenance Than You Expected

The mortgage payment is just the beginning of the cost of homeownership.

When you’re a renter, your landlord pays for the roof repairs, A/C service and appliance replacements. As a homeowner, these expenses fall to you. Home maintenance costs vary, depending on where you live, the age of your home and its condition, but you can expect to spend at least a few thousand dollars each year taking care of it. A home with cracks in the foundation, moisture buildup, aging appliancesand elaborate landscaping may require more money and energy to repair and maintain.

“This is another reason you should avoid maxxing out your loan,” said Saladrigas. If you have to pay for a surprise expense with a credit card or personal loan, you’re potentially putting yourself in a stressful situation, especially if your mortgage payment takes up too much of your budget.

4. Too Far From the Places You Go

The real estate mantra, “Location, location, location,” exists for a reason. The right home in the wrong location is often a bad choice. Saladrigas concured, noting, “the right home is the one that fits your lifestyle … A long commute from home or school eventually gets old for most people.”

It’s also helpful to consider where you like to shop, go for entertainment and how far you’ll be from friends and family. You want to spend time enjoying your home, not driving to and from it. Similarly, if you prefer walking or using public transportation to get to work or places of entertainment, a car-dependent neighborhood with limited options and few sidewalks may not be a good fit.

5. Layout Doesn’t Meet Your Needs

According to the National Association of Realtors, the living room, kitchen and primary bedroom are the most important rooms to buyers. “Pay attention to the location of the bedrooms and bathrooms,” Saladrigas noted. “If you have young children at home, you may not like a two-story with the primary bedroom on the first floor, or you may prefer the privacy of a split plan.”

On the other hand, having a bedroom on the first floor can come in handy if you plan to continue living in the house after you retire. Climbing up and down stairs can be a challenge as you age, so you may appreciate having the option to move in to the downstairs room later in life. Also, make sure the house has enough bathroom space to accommodate everyone living there. Although everyone doesn’t need their own bathroom, it’s convenient to have a spare when one is occupied or everyone needs to get ready at the same time.

6. You Want to Make Too Many Renovations

If you love the architectural details in a classic craftsman home or have visions of restoring a charming bungalow, it’s helpful to have the resources in place — or at least a plan — before you buy.

“I’m not saying you need to fall in love with a house as-is” Saladrigas said. “You may find a property that ticks all the boxes on your wish list but needs a kitchen update. Just be prepared for the financial and emotional costs of a renovation.” It can look so easy on TV, with sledgehammer-wielding crews tearing down walls to open up the room or get rid of aging cabinets on home repair shows. The reality is that renovating a house is a big project that takes time, costs money and can uncover unexpected issues that have to be addressed.

A new house can be a massive undertaking in terms of time, emotional and — especially — finances. Be sure to consider the hurdles above before selecting your new home.

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