(the following is a summary of an article posted by the Hills New Group on May 13, 2011)

A real estate buyer often needs to prioritize between 2 primary attributes – location and features of the property. You have already heard by now that Location, Location and Location (has to be said 3 times for max effect!) is all that matters in real estate. There is proven value in that old saying. While property features (such as the style of the property, number of bedrooms, bathrooms, kitchen size…) often can be changed, convenience and desirability of a location can’t be easily modified, and definitely not over a short period of time.

Buyers don’t always understand the trade-offs associated with prioritizing a great location. We have had buyers say, “Even though we are willing to spend 700K on a home in the Berkeley area, we still feel like we are settling for it rather than getting our perfect home.” A Berkeley location often dictates higher prices and homes that are smaller and older when compared to most of the country. So, how do you avoid compromise? With a little imagination, you can have your cake and eat it too. Think creatively about how to manipulate property features and make a house your own sweet home.

We walk our clients through all the possible rearrangements and renovations for the subject property, to come to a conclusion on whether this is the right property or not. Sometimes fulfilling a dream is more than just finding the right house. It often requires helping buyers visualize some amount of remodeling and rearrangement. Your dreams are unique, so it is difficult to find exactly what you are looking for in the existing inventory of homes. This means either a compromise or a willingness to make changes: Be it a new paint color, a new deck or knocking out a couple walls. I believe that you should compromises only if the changes are not feasible, do not make sense economically or if you do not want to deal with the hassle.

“Think of the possibilities, not just what it is today. This is our philosophy when evaluating the features of the property – think about the possibilities and if that still doesn’t meet your needs, let it go.”

If creative visualization fails, it may be worth compromising a bit on location, especially if it is determined that a particular feature is of greater importance. Recently, we held an open house in Albany, where Mamood and I met a sweet young couple who told us that they were burnt out from searching for a home. They had been out every weekend, and it had already been 4 months since they started their search! When we asked them what feature was most important, their number one criterion was “large lot size” with the ability to garden. I couldn’t stop myself from saying, “then why are you looking in Albany where most of the lots are 5,000 square feet or smaller? You should be looking in Berkeley or Kensington.” They were tiring themselves out by looking in the wrong location. And remember to bring your creativity: If there is concrete or a deck in the wrong place, it can be removed.

For the blueberry cake (pictured above) recipe click here.