The Boston Condo Search: Establishing Your “Must Haves”

For most of us, the purchase of a home represents one of the largest single investments you will ever make. The enormity of the financial transaction aside, stepping into the buying process and finding the right home to fit your particular needs can be intimidating without guidance from an experienced realtor who has deep knowledge of the Boston market. To get the process started, I’ll help you consider and prioritize a list of essential and desirable features consistent with the Boston lifestyle you are looking for, inside and outside your home. Consider asking yourself the following:

Location: Do I want to live in downtown Boston, Brookline, Cambridge or the suburbs?  Which of Boston’s many neighborhoods should I explore? Would a neighborhood that’s primarily residential or one mixed with commercial space be best for me? Do I want immediate accessibility to public transportation, shopping, restaurants, a health club, cultural activities and my workplace?

Type and Style: Am I willing to consider a brownstone, townhome, high-rise, mid-rise low-rise, apartment-style, floor-through, single-level, duplex, loft, single-family, two- or three-family?  Do I like contemporary, transitional or traditional style?

Age and Condition: Do I prefer new construction or a totally renovated condo in move-in condition? Am I willing to make cosmetic changes or undertake more significant renovations to the kitchen, bathrooms, etc. or even do a gut renovation?

Features and Amenities: How many bedrooms and bathrooms do I need? How many would I prefer?  Are a master bed and bath essential? Do I want an open living/dining concept?  Must I have central air? Do appliances have to be new or am I open to replacement? Is gas cooking key? Does there a need to be in-unit laundry or will on-premise laundry suffice? Is an elevator required or will a walk-up work? Do I need outdoor space like a garden, terrace or balcony… and does it have to be private or can it be shared? What are the condo’s pet policies? Is garage parking essential or will off-street or on-street parking be acceptable? How many spaces do I need?

Your list of essentials may be extensive ranging from natural light exposure in the living space and the bedroom to a wood burning fireplace, or a spectacular city view and hardwood floors throughout, to an on-site fitness center and doorman. It is important to create an initial working list, but keep in mind that these priorities may change as you view available homes. Defining what is most important to you and where you are willing to compromise will allow you to focus. As your realtor, I will help you gain access to properties of interest as early as possible when they first hit the market, which is essential given today’s record low condo inventory in Boston.

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