Jack Conroy


The Perfect Home

Money Magazine August 3, 2007.  

It isn?t the one that has everything (because you can?t afford it).  It?s the one with more of what you want and less of what you don?t.  Below is a system which I believe with help narrow your search for your next home.  A new home purchase is a high-pressure, extremely emotional decision.  No house will ever fully live up to all your dreams, and what-ever compromises you make (and you?ll make some) you?ll be stuck with them for years.  I?ve never met anyone who was totally rational about evaluating a home, but the way to get closest, I?ve found is to break it into discrete parts.


Just like when you consider the purchase of a diamond.  You focus on four competing criteria (carats, clarity, color and cut).  Home buyers need to consider the home?s four C?s:  COST, CONDITION, CAPICITY and CONVENIENCE.  Here are some items you should weigh to assist in making trade-offs.

1.      COST:

Calculate the True Cost:  The price tag is just the beginning.  You also need to figure the ongoing expense of ownership.  They include:

Annual Mortgage Payments                                       $ ----------

Annual Maintenance Expenses                                 $ ----------

Annual Property Taxes and Association Fees           $ ----------

Annual Utility Costs                                                        $ ----------

Annual Insurance Costs                                                  $ ----------

Annual Landscape Costs

Total                                                                      $ _______


2.      Capacity:

Judge the house by its layout, not the square footage.  More important is how that space is allocated.  These questions will help you evaluate whether the space in a house fits you:

Does it have enough closet space?                                          Yes or No             ______

Does it have enough storage space?                                       Yes or No             ______

Are there enough bedrooms?                                                   Yes or No             ______

Include future plans and long term guest

Does the kitchen suit my needs?                                             Yes or No             ______

                Include fridge, cookware, table and chairs

Is there a spot to work from home?                                        Yes or No             ---------

A home office or a shared work space

Ample space to do home work

Is there sufficient space for the kids to play?                     Yes or No             ---------

                Include outside and inside space

                Separate room or shared space



3.      Condition:

New homeowners spend an average of $2,300 annually on improvements.  To get the SIZE, NEIGHBORHOOD, AMENIDIES and SCHOOLS you want, how much less than perfect can you live with?  Unless you are buying new, expect your home to need some upgrades.  Upgrades go from cosmetic to extensive overhaul.  Consider the following:

Unacceptable (Run Away) ? incredibly costly to tackle:

Major cracks in the foundation

Sagging stairs or floors

Leaks or water damage

Termites or Mold


Consult a Pro (Fixable but costly) ? negotiate having the seller fix

Aged, Leaking or Sagging roof

Age of furnace and HVAC

Exterior needs painting and repairs

Mature trees within 15 feet of house

High Radon levels


Cosmetic (Makes it your home) ? investment will increase value to you

Be sure to add in these cost to the purchase price!

Outdated Kitchen

Outdated or soiled Carpet or Flooring

Colors do not go with your furniture

Unfinished basement


4.      Convenience:

Two factors commonly overlooked are Time and Cost of getting from home to the places you need to get to on a regular bases.  When comparing two or more homes  do this simple exercise to see if this brakes the tie. The only way to really see how far your prospective home is from the office, school, supermarket, airport, church is to do a test run during rush hour.  Make a list of your critical locations and compare the competing homes on cost and time.



Commute Miles

Commute Time

Times per month

Total Miles

Total Time in minutes



















Day care













Total                                      _________

Miles per gallon                    _________

Price of Gas                           _________

Monthly Cost                         _________