Finding That Diamond in the Rough

When you're in the market for a new home, you probably have some idea of just what that home should look like. But it's important to keep in mind that a home that isn't in pristine condition may still have great potential. Many new buyers will go by their first impressions and if not perfect they opt out from pursuing the purchase of a house that others may see in a different light. Here are some tips to help you look beyond bad decorating and ugly wallpaper to see a potential jewel.

Floor Plan: The floor plan is extremely important. Look at entrances, exits, and where the rooms are located. Think about the flow of traffic in and around your home. A good floor plan is worth a lot, especially when you look at the cost of changing it.

Also consider noise. Do you have young children that will play in a particular part of the house? How will that noise reach the part of the house where the adults will spend most of their time? A friend of mine loves her house, but she complains that the noise from Monday Night Football reaches all the way from the room where her husband and son watch the game to her bedroom. Even though the two rooms are on different floors and different ends of the house, voices carry.

Walls & Floors: Walls and floor coverings make an important first impression. Paint is relatively inexpensive, so try to see the walls in the colors you would choose. Carpets can be removed and replaced; hardwoods can be refinished and vinyl floor coverings are not very expensive.

Walk all the floors and listen for squeaks and feel for uneven spots. If the floor is solid, the way it looks can be changed quickly and cheaply.

Kitchen: The kitchen is usually the most popular room in a home. Paint and new appliances can make a big difference, should you not like what's there now. The most important thing to consider is whether or not it has enough space to suit your needs. Also check for the work flow. Make sure when the oven door is open or when the dishwasher door is down, that the flow around the space is not hindered.

Now let's turn to the outside. The curb appeal is very important to presenting the house for top dollar. When you look at a house with an unattractive appearance, ask yourself if it can be altered to your liking with just a few dollars and a little work. While other prospects may be turned off and walk away, you may be able to offer a lower price then expected and with just a little TLC, polish that diamond.

Keep in mind that unless you are building your dream home, you will probably never find the "100% perfect" home. So before you make an offer, keep in mind what you can't live without and what you can improve upon with some well-placed upgrades and improvements.