BUYING & SELLING | A FIVE-PART SERIES PRESENTED by MG Residential’s Resident Blogger | Katie Shea Britton


Have you heard that house hunters should always seek out the worst house on the best block? Or that the three most important qualities in a property are location, location, location? If you’ve spent any time in a home-buying process, chances are you’ve had someone mention these to you. These expressions have been around a while, and for good reason: they emphasize the fundamental rule of house-hunting, namely that finding the right property means focusing on the unchangeable.

The first, and most obvious, of these “unchangeables” is location. While buying the worst house on the best block might bring more problems than benefit, the sentiment can be a guiding principle. Neighborhoods may transform, blocks and buildings may ebb and flow, but for the most part, think about your location in a deliberate manner. Jobs and schools may change over time, and exact needs will be difficult to anticipate years in advance, but will your location provide you with the options to adapt as necessary? This is what you’re buying into. You can not change where a property is situated, unlike paint colors, so look for a property’s potential if you find the location you desire first.

Speaking of paint colors, while it’s simple enough to undertake the transformation of a property through cosmetic edits (not always easy or inexpensive, but manageable), another of the “unchangeables” would be the style and footprint of the home. Aside from demolition and reconstruction, it’s generally not possible to transform a split-level into a side hall colonial. Nor can you move the kitchen from one side of the house to the other without major effort. If you’re planning to put in that effort, it opens up a world of possibilities. But if you’re not willing or able, focusing on the style of home and footprint of the property will help refine your search.

Finally, consider your budget. For most, that’s a fairly unchangeable part of the home-buying process too. Going into a property substantially under budget can offer you wiggle room to make edits and updates that bring the property up to your standards and dreams. You will still need your eyes on the final cost in terms of both dollars and time. For many home-buyers, sticking as close to budget as possible yields the best home for their price point. Finding a dream home outside of one’s price range happens more often that you’d think, so realizing a budget (and likely a pre approval) is one of these “unchangeables” helps house-hunters stay the course.

It’s easy to get caught up in the shine and minutiae of both new and new-to-you properties. Developers and even good listing agents will do their best to make a property shiny and attractive, so it’s the responsibility of the buyers and their agents to remember to seek out the “unchangeables” first. The rest will follow.