The 80/20 Rule That Can Help You When Hunting For A New Home

Hunting for a new home can provoke many feelings, such as happiness, excitement, and stress, especially for first-time homebuyers. Buying a new house or condo is a significant commitment and one of the most expensive investments you'll likely ever make, so it's not a decision to take lightly. The pressure to make the best choice can lead to overthinking, but the 80/20 rule can help determine whether a home will realistically be a good option for what you want and need.

"If a home provides 80 percent or more of what you're looking for, that's a great match," Julie Upton, a Compass real estate agent, told Apartment Therapy. "Rarely does a home provide everything that the buyer is looking for." To utilize this rule, consider making a pros and cons list when you check out a home. If at least 80% of the list consists of pros, the house is likely an ideal fit for you, and you shouldn't overthink it.

Consider whether you can change something you don't like

When applying the 80/20 rule, consider how challenging it would be to add something you're looking for to a home that doesn't already have the feature. For example, a home's general layout is going to be super hard to change, if possible to change at all, so if you want to avoid an open floor plan and a home has that layout, the house might not be an ideal fit, even if it has close to 80% of the other aspects you're looking for. Similarly, you can't typically change a home's square footage, so ask yourself if that's a dealbreaker if a house doesn't meet your square footage requirement. You also can't change a house's neighborhood and location. For instance, if you've been dying to find a home near a beach in a walkable community, and the house you're considering is far from the beach and will require a car to get places, it likely won't be the right fit for you, even if near 80% of more modifiable aspects of the home meet your requirements.

Another aspect that even people with the best negotiation skills likely won't be able to radically change is the price, so that is one of the aspects of house hunting that you shouldn't compromise on too much. It's always an important tip for home buyers to stick to their budget and be practical, as not doing so can lead to severe regret. 

Research costs of modifying what you can change

On the other hand, more temporary, smaller-picture details shouldn't be as imperative, so if the home has around 80% of what you're looking for and the other 20% are aspects you can change, the house will probably be ideal for your needs. If you don't like changeable aspects of a home, such as the kitchen cabinets or carpets in any room, research how much it could cost to make modifications. For instance, expect to spend between $120 and $720 — but most likely close to $280 — on carpet removal. 

You can also change many aspects of the bathroom. For example, have you always wanted a house with a cozy tub, and does the home you're looking at only have a shower but 80% of the other features you desire? Don't let the lack of a bathtub be a dealbreaker. Typically, installing a bathtub can cost between about $1,250 and around $2,255, so while it won't be a cheap modification, it's still a doable change. Plus, if you don't like a home's color scheme, you can always change it through new wall paint, furniture, and decorations. It's crucial to remember that it's typically impossible to find a house or condo with 100% of what you want, so don't let changeable features you don't like hold you back from buying a home that successfully meets the 80/20 rule.