Comparing & Evaluating Homes and Deciding on a House

Home buyers, especially first-time home buyers, couples, and families, often find it difficult deciding on a house. It can be a complex decision; not only are there many home from which to choose, each home has it own characteristic to evaluate. Often no one home has all the desired characteristics. I think one of the best ways to see if a home is the right one for you is to pretend that I just told you someone else bought it. If you have a visceral punch to the gut, then you may want to consider making an offer on the home. More folks who want a more analytical approach, consider that there are two primary steps to the decision making process–first deciding what characteristics in a home are important, then deciding which home has the best mix of those characteristics. There are several good decision-making techniques available. All of them begin with listing the available options that might be important. For example, if the neighborhood is important, add it to the list. If house color is unimportant, leave it off.

Step One: On a sheet of paper, each decision maker individually answers the question: what characteristics are important in buying a home? All decision makers then review all lists and combine them into a single list. Eliminate duplicate items and organize with subcatagories where appropriate.

Step Two: After you have the list of characteristics, each decision maker individually rate each of the options. Using 100 points, assign points to those characteristics in proportion to how important they are to you.

Example:

  • affordable monthly payments .30
  • easy commute to work .13
  • at least 2 bathrooms .23
  • seller can close in 3 weeks .3
  • garage .14
  • repairs and/or upgrades .14

Step Three: There several ways you can use the list. Decision makers can average their ratings and use this list to rate individual homes. If you are deciding between several homes, rate each home’s characteristics on a 1-10 scale with 10 being the best, multiply by the factor assigned to the characteristic, add the results and compare. The home with the most points is the home for you. Below is an example of a more detailed list. Your list will probably be different, but use this list as a guide.

    Home Characteristics

    House 1

    House 2

    House 3

    Comments*

    Location:

    • Burlington
      • New North End
      • Hill Section
      • South End
      • Old North End
    • Charlotte
    • Colchester
    • Essex
    • Hinesburg
    • Jericho
    • Milton
    • Shelburne
    • South Burlington
    • Williston
    • Winooski
    • Richmond
    School system:
    Home type:

    • Detached
    • Townhouse
    • Condo
    • Older Home
    • Newer Home
    • Ranch (no stairs)
    • Colonial
    • Contemporary
    • Other
    House size:

    • # of bedrooms
    • # of bathrooms
    • sq. ft.
    Rooms:

    • family room
    • dining room
    • office
    • laundry room
    • finished basement
    Kitchen

    • gas range
    • eat-in
    • cabinets
    Move-in condition
    Maintenance
    Renovations
    Fireplace
    Hardwood floors
    Garage

    • 1-car
    • 2-car
    • attached
    Privacy
    Yard

    • fenced
    Acreage
    Deck, porch, or patio
    Pool