Finding the right car is a huge challenge. I’m sure new home buyers feel the same way about buying a home in the Iowa City area. Where do you start? Are open houses a good place to start? After trotting from dealership to dealership and being given the “up sell” on a variety of cars I’m not so sure about the answer to that. Getting out there and looking at cars didn’t really help. There were so many choices and so many dealers trying to talk me into thinking theirs was the best that I ended up taking a break from the car search for a couple of weeks until I’d done more online research and figured out what I really wanted.
The first thing I did was narrow down my criteria. I wanted a four wheel drive Crossover that got good gas mileage. I needed to be able to fit my real estate signs in the back, but it didn’t need to be a “people carrier” as clients typically drive their own cars. After establishing my wants and needs list the process went a whole lot easier. In fact I had just one trip after that to the Carousel Nissan Dealership in Iowa City. (And they rock by the way, but that’s the subject of a different post).
Today’s real estate market is just as challenging in Iowa City. There are SO many choices. Where do you start? Based on my car story, the first thing you need to do before you go out looking at homes in Iowa City is to figure out what is REALLY important to you.
Top 2 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Looking for a Home in Iowa City
How important is the kitchen to you? And how about the yard? Those are the two questions I’d start with. There are lots of houses out there with 3 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms, (you can insert numbers of your choice there), but when you think about it, that’s not where you spend the bulk of your time. (At least not while you’re awake). Your best bet is to focus on where you will be spending your time and work from there. If you hate yard work, right away you know you need a condo. If you’re a hobby cook you might want to avoid homes with galley kitchens.
That’s a good place to start. Now for some of the more standard questions you should ask yourself before you start looking for your new home in Iowa City:
Do you want a single family home, zero lot or a condo?
Single family homes are very popular with families. Zero Lots are a good, more affordable option to the single family home, with many of the same benefits. (We have a lot more zero lots in Coralville and North Liberty than in Iowa City). Condos are obviously popular as a low maintenance option with yard work and snow removal taken care of. (Remember to factor in the HOA fees).
Do you have a preference on style? Ranch, split level, two-story, multi-level?
Ranch homes are very popular and usually have a nice open feel. The lack of stairs is a big plus for some. The trade off for families with children might be the noise factor with TV’s and stereos on the same floor as bedrooms.
Do you want a newer or older home?
Newer homes mean less maintenance. That’s great if you have a busy life style or are just not handy. If you like projects you might want an older home to potter about in and make your own.
Location. Location. Location.
So now you have a pretty good idea of the kind of home you want. The burning question is, will you find it in the “right” location for you in Iowa City? The further out you go from downtown the newer the homes are. That’s how it works, towns grow from the center outwards. Whatever you choose for your criteria for your new home in Iowa City, you may need to adapt if you want the house to be in a particular location, close to a school, work, Interstate, grocery shopping, parks, playgrounds etc.
Take it from me with my car experience, narrowing down the criteria is a really good way to get the clutter out of the brain. Clearing the mind and focusing on the important stuff you’ll find you’ll have a lot more fun choosing a home too! That’s how it worked for me with the car. With a fairly good idea in mind about what I wanted, I felt a lot more confident walking into the dealership and was open to let the “magic” happen. I drove away in a car that fit my criteria and is a good fit to my personality and lifestyle. That’s what you want from a home too. Our homes are not just the place we live, they need to enhance our lifestyles and fit with our personalities. You start with a solid idea on the criteria and then you let the magic happen…
When you’re ready to make your move I’d love to hear from you to help you find the right home to fit your lifestyle. I’m an experienced Realtor who understands the ins and outs of the Iowa City area real estate market. My goal is to make buying a home in the Iowa City area as successful as for you as my car purchase. Just give me a call at 319-400-0268 to get started.
Jerri McCombs says
Great Article Denise! As always…
Denise Hamlin says
Hi Jerri ~ Nice to “see” you. I know you miss Iowa City sometimes, I imagine summer is one of those times. (Nothing like stating the obvious, who would miss Iowa winters?)
Hope all is well with you and you’re keeping busy.