Living the Dream: Finding the home of a lifetime

Living the Dream: Finding the home of a lifetime

Maybe it's an Olympic-sized pool. Or maybe a den with mahogany trim. Maybe it's just the location. Regardless of what it is, everyone has an idea of what would make for their dream home. But even home buyers have to wake up, so planning for your dream home is a key to making it a reality.

When shopping for a dream home, first make a priority list. Dreams are open to infinite possibilities, but the odds of finding a home with an Olympic-sized pool in a specific neighborhood and a built-in wine fridge for under $500,000 might make your search a long, and possibly fruitless, one. Making a priority list can help you understand where you--and your partner--can make dreamy compromises. Maybe a smaller pool is tolerable, as long as the Chardonnay is the right temperature.

Also, carefully talk with an agent or a builder about particularly exotic amenities. This is your dream, but some decisions can prove costly if it comes time to renovate or sell. Avocado-green appliances might be your dream, but if you can live with a more neutral stainless scheme, but you'll likely have to replace them before you hand over the keys.

Of course, not every home has to come ready-made to your dream specifications. Partnering with a reputable contractor can help you find good locations with solid foundations that are ripe for dream renovations. This is a particularly good option when location is a higher priority than amenities. Hot neighborhoods, such as Lakeview or certain areas of Uptown, don't have a high inventory. Not only does this allow you to make a home that is exactly what you've always wanted, but in some cases it can amount to a bit of savings, as well.

If you're buying a dream home, however, make sure you get it thoroughly inspected by someone you hire directly. Though this should go without saying, a good inspection ensures that your dream home doesn't turn into a nightmare. Dream homes are often historic, meaning close attention must be paid to possible repairs and updates. A simple upgrade to three-pronged power outlets can be a tear-down-the-wall project for some homes. Even for newly- or recently-built homes, however, there are more often features that are rare, unique, or simply too cutting edge to be hastily reviewed. If your dream is a historic home, work with an inspector that has a long portfolio of inspecting historic homes; if your dream involves space-age amenities, make sure your inspector has worked with the most modern homes.

Regardless of what the dream is, it's always important to know that dreams can change. A family that dreams of a yard and a good school district can later dream of a condo in the CBD. This is why it's always a good idea to begin every hunt for a dream home - even if you only do one in a lifetime - with a good agent.

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