The Three L's and Three C's of Real Estate

Ok, I admit it. I stole the concept of the three L’s and three C’s from an episode of House Hunters on HGTV. But bear with me, because it makes perfect sense. In fact, it makes so much sense that I was compelled to blog about it. Here goes nothing…

So many times during a search for a new home, first time home buyers fail to see the big picture. They dwell on the things that can easily be changed and get hung up on things that, quite frankly, don’t matter really that much in the grand scheme of things. More often than not, buyers are focusing too much on the three C’s of real estate when they should be focusing on the three L’s.

The three C’s of real estate are cleanliness, color, and condition. Let’s start with cleanliness. Trust me; I know it can be off-putting to walk into a house only to be distracted by things like clutter, dust, or pet hair. But here’s the thing: When people move out of the house, they usually take their dirty stuff with them. It might take some serious work, but the cleanliness of a house is too easy to correct to be a deal breaker. It only takes some elbow grease and a little bit of time, but it is correctable. Even things that appear to be more serious really aren’t that big of a deal. Stained carpets? Rent a steam vacuum or change out the carpet for something that suits your tastes better…Dirty, scuffed-up walls? Try some soap and water. It’s amazing what a sponge and some soapy water can get off of a wall. If that doesn’t work, just buy some paint and touch it up. It may seem like a lot of work to fix these things, but in the grand scheme of things, it’s not.

This brings me to my second point…Why does the color of rooms seem to be like a deal breaker to some people? Okay, I get it – it’s a pain in the you-know-what to paint a bunch of rooms. But really, how long will it take? A couple of evenings or weekends at most? In fact, it’s almost a good thing to have a bunch of rooms with colors you can’t stand…Why? Because it will motivate you to paint every room the exact colors you want and not settle with “Well, this color is ok for now…”

Does a house that you’re looking at have ugly wall paper? Rip it down! There are hundreds of tutorials online about getting rid of that ugly floral wall paper in your bathroom…And If you don’t feel like doing it yourself, there are plenty of services that will do it for you.

Finally, we come to the last “C”. Sometimes this one is the hardest to c past (get it?) for home buyers. We’ve all experienced it – You think you’ve found a great house in an outstanding neighborhood only to walk inside and find a kitchen that looks like it came straight out of an episode of the Brady Bunch. Don’t panic. Although it seems overwhelming, these things can be changed. Even little things like changing the hardware on the front of kitchen cabinets can make a big difference. Don’t worry if you don’t have enough money to renovate right away. Choose one small project at a time and keep plugging away. When you have your dream kitchen it will all be worthwhile.

Now that we’ve covered the three C’s, it’s time to take a look at the things you can’t change when buying a new home. These are the real deal breakers in a home search: the three L’s. The three L’s are lot size, layout, and location.

Let’s start with lot size. Ok – so you’ve found the perfect move in ready house, but it has a tiny front or back yard. Now this might be just fine and dandy for some prospective home owners; however, if it’s important for your new home to have ample outdoor space, then this definitely has to be a deal breaker -- because lot size is never going to change…Unless you neighbor dies and wills you half of their lawn, your lot is never going to get any bigger. Thirty years from now when you finally pay off your mortgage, your lot size will be the exact same size it was the day you bought the property.

Another thing you cannot really change in your new home is its layout. “But Nick, can’t you knock down some walls to open up the living space?” Sure you can...to an extent (and that’s only if support, plumbing, or electrical issues don’t get in the way). But that is not exactly what I’m talking about here. Say you are a family that is getting ready to have a child. That house with only one bedroom upstairs and one on the other side of the first floor might not work for you. Or say you are thinking about getting ready to retire soon. That house with the garage that enters into the basement might seem okay for now, but are you going to want to lug groceries to the top of those stairs, say, ten years from now?

Finally, the biggest deal breaker of them all is location. Say you found the most amazing house…It’s everything you’ve ever wanted in a home and more, but there is only one problem: It’s not in a great location. The best advice I can give to buyers is to find the location you want and then update the home to suit your needs. Point being, aside from lifting the house onto a trailer and moving it to another part of town, you’re stuck with that location. You can change flooring, countertops, and appliances; however, you simply cannot fix the fact that your house is in a neighborhood where it is the nicest and most expensive house on the block, or that it is too far away from work.

When buying homes, buyers often make the mistake of focusing on the three C’s when they should be focusing on the three L’s.  Don’t let this happen to you!

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