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Deal Killers or Memory Makers? What to Know When Buying a House
Real Estate

Deal Killers or Memory Makers? What to Know When Buying a House

A Half Moon Bay real estate agent shares a valuable tip for those searching for their new home in California.


3 min read

December 16, 2020

David Oliphant is the owner of Ocean Blue Real Estate and is a member of the Recommended Business Program, which highlights only the best businesses in the Golden State. To be featured, each business must be highly regarded, have a unique California story, and make a positive impact in their community. 

I’ll begin at the end of the story: Sadly, last week we had to make the decision to let go of Blake, one of our dogs. He was a rescue from Muttville Senior Dog Rescue; we adopted him when he was 11 years young, and he made it to the ripe age of 18. Still not an easy decision, but he lived a good, long, happy, and (mostly) healthy life. I’ll miss him for a very long time. 

After Blake’s passing, many friends sent gifts, flowers, and cards. One friend gave us a stone with Blake’s name engraved on it, a wonderful gesture and reminder that Blake will always be in our hearts and even in our home. I placed the stone on the landing of our stairs; when Blake was alive, the last thing I did every night was to carry him up the stairs to bed, and the first thing I did in the morning was to carry him back down—a chore I soon came to cherish as I enjoyed being able to do it for my little guy. Today, it’s one of the times I miss him the most: when I walk up and down the stairs empty-handed. 

Real estate agent David Oliphant adopted his dog, Blake, from Muttville Senior Dog Rescue.

That got me thinking of what might be important when searching for a home—what we think are “must-haves” and what might be “deal killers.” When we first looked at our current home, the deal killers for me were the stairs and the fact that there really was no yard. I thought, How inconvenient. There’s no way Blake can deal with these stairs, and having no yard means at least three walks a day so he can “do his business.” 

I hear clients say similar things every day: too many steps, too small of a yard, one too few bathrooms, the kids don’t like their rooms, or “there’s not enough room on the counters for my cakes”! (Okay, that last line is true, but we heard it while watching HGTV one Saturday morning—yes, it gave us a chuckle.) For that person, having room for cakes is certainly a real concern, but is it a “deciding” factor in terms of what to look at when buying a house?

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I look back at the homes I’ve owned and wonder why one house might have a lot of emotional attachment for me while another doesn’t—nothing, nada, zippo. Why have I not thought about one of those homes one time after selling it? Certainly, it was not the house itself, right? While moving around the country in my earlier career, I was fortunate to own homes that had it all: wonderful quality, great style, good location, etc. But I’ve come to realize it’s not the houses themselves that made me feel attached or unattached, but rather the life experiences and milestones that were happening in my life while living in a particular house.

When buying a home, you may have a list of "deal killers" or "must-haves," but it's important to remember that your needs may change over time.

It’s probably true for many of us: marriage, the birth of children, the passing of a spouse, a career shift, or another life-altering event (even a pandemic)—all of these life experiences shift our feelings and either attach us to, make us feel neutral about, or detach us emotionally from a home. Memories can be a powerful thing and often turn out to be very different than what we had once imagined for ourselves.

I suppose my point of rambling about this is: Maybe “deal killers” or “must-haves” are true for us, but might I suggest, only at that very moment? For those in need of tips for buying a house, maybe the wisest thing you can do is look beyond the now and know that everything is going to change over time. Life changes—it evolves, it revolves, it dissolves, and it resolves itself again and again. If the house “feels” right, it just might be the one for you, even if it doesn’t tick all of your “current” boxes. Some of the other stuff is just that, it’s stuff. 

"My 'deal killers' ended up becoming the opposite of what I thought...they actually formed some of my favorite memories of being in our home."

We almost passed on this house—I’m so thankful we didn’t. I love it. I love that it’s been a comfortable home to shelter in place. (When purchasing this home, I never imagined that might be our reality). I love our home because of its wonderful location, kind neighbors, and open views. I love it because life has been generous and kind to us, and I love the fact that I got to honor Blake by carrying him up and down the stairs and walking him three times a day. In hindsight, maybe it was some of the best quality time I could have spent with him in his final months. I guess my “deal killers” ended up becoming the opposite of what I thought they were; they actually formed some of my favorite memories of being in our home. I do miss Blake, but I’m very thankful for his life and our memories, so far, in this house. 

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