Today, nearly everyone you talk to would understand what you mean when referring to a “Bucket List”: the list of penultimate experiences you wish to have before you die, popularized by the film of the same name starring Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman. Similar to the bucket list, many potential homeowners have a list of home features that, when they begin searching, they deem “must-haves.” The list might include a specific geographic area (neighborhoods like Seward or Highland Park, or cities like Golden Valley, Mendota Heights), a particular style of architecture (rambler, mid-century modern, Cape Cod) or house age (turn of the century, post-war, new construction), general features (3+ bedrooms, hardwood floors, sunny half-acre lot, eat-in kitchen), all the way to the less tangible, more intuitive attributes (“bright,” “cozy,” “functional”)
As a real estate agent, I’m sometimes tasked with the job of ushering clients into the real world, helping them to understand what they’re likely to find in the area they want and price range they qualify for. This journey often becomes necessary when clients have their minds and/or hearts set on one or more of the big three considerations: location, price, style.
The discrepancy between what people want and what is available based on their criteria often occurs with first-time homebuyers who are unfamiliar with real estate basics, or with any buyer who is moving from outside the Twin Cities. When flipping through MNMO’s best neighborhoods guide, it’s easy to envision how great and picturesque and convenient it might be to live in Linden Hills in Minneapolis or St. Louis Park’s West End. But if your price range is below half a million for the former, or you’re looking for a nice, old Victorian in the latter, you’ll be hard-pressed to find what you’re looking for.
A white buffalo is even hard to find in Google Image Search! Instead, please enjoy this picture of an albino alligator.
While many buyers come to us knowing what they want and being familiar with the area in which they’re searching, if you fall into the camp of wanting something that’s not common in your desired geographical area, it’s important to prioritize. For example, I’ve been working with a client who, because he wants to keep his commute time to a minimum, would like to buy along the western edge of St. Paul—from the river at Highway 5, and north toward Falcon Heights and Roseville. The challenge is that when he initially listed his must-haves in a single-family home, he listed the real estate equivalent of the white buffalo (not completely out of the question, but exceedingly rare): 3+ bedrooms, a home built after 2000, for no more than $250K.
In this instance, history is working against my client, with the majority of the city’s residences having been developed before 1950. To wit: more than half the listings throughout the city of St. Paul currently active in the MLS were built before 1930. While some areas of the city have opened up for development more recently, such as the Phalen corridor which boasts several townhouse communities, and houses all over St. Paul have been torn down and replaced with new homes, neither location nor price mesh with his wish list.
Fortunately, as I worked with the client and explained St. Paul housing characteristics, he reassessed his needs. As we began seeing homes and learning about various neighborhoods and home styles, he realized that his priority was location and ease of commute, and his list of must-haves—namely, the age of the home—changed.
Of course, this is not to discourage the dreamers. If what you want and where you want it to be located are non-negotiables, and time isn’t of the essence, then by all means, hold out until you find what you want! We’ll be here to schedule a showing when it pops up in your MLS portal!
Starting to think about buying a home? We can help you get started! From introducing you to one of our preferred mortgage professionals, to setting up an MLS search and scheduling showings, we’re here to help. Contact us today by phone or email to learn more!
Angela Anderson, 612-396-3654
Licensed Associate Working with Sharlene Hensrud of RE/MAX Results, and HomesMSP — Sharlene, John, Angela