Being a first time homeowner is a challenge. Knowing what you want in a home that you are BUYING, I think, is a work in progress. There are the easy parts of the checklist: number of bedrooms & bathrooms, size of garage, gas vs. electric, approximate age & neighborhood.... but then there are other things.... things that you don't really know until you've actually been there, done that, and bought the t-shirt (metaphorically speaking). In other words, you gotta make a few mistakes, get your hands dirty, fix what you don't like (if possible) and make a new list for the future of what to look for in a home. Things that a trained and/or experienced eye know to look for. Some are obvious, some are more difficult (but still able) to spot...
-I now know that I don't want tiled countertops. Ever. Never. Not on your life. Please, if you are ever doing any type of countertop work DO NOT put tile on your counter. Promise me.
-I now know that I DO want a larger laundry room. Mine currently is basically the walk-through style, w/washer & dryer facing each other and you pass between them as you come into the kitchen from the garage. Basically, the only thing this does is keep you from having to stand in a cold garage to do your laundry. There is NOWHERE to put ANYTHING.
-I want a yard that I cannot spit across. I have a very wide yet narrow yard. Next one needs to be bigger.
-I don't want to have to remove any wallpaper anywhere.
The less obvious... the things you really have to look for:
-I don't want to need or even want to replace any major fixtures, cabinetry, etc. I don't mind walls that need to be painted. I don't mind if your taste in light fixtures isn't great, b/c my husband is pretty good at changing them for me. I don't want to need new cabinetry b/c the one in my bathroom has been taken over by mold, which I didn't know because you put down shelf liner on top of it. I also don't want to have to re-drywall the bathroom because of mold b/c you are too cheap and lazy to install wallpaper correctly. And I don't want to have no option in having my foundation repaired b/c you installed new windows after it was damaged thus rendering the new windows ready to break if we fix said foundation. (I could really go on but what's the point?)
-If you are the home builder, DO NOT put FAKE rock (that is actually cement and glazed to look like rock) around the fireplace. That's disgusting.
My husband and I are slowly trying to dig ourselves out from under this mess. Seeing as we have two young kiddos and a small amount of debt to get paid off, its taking a little while. A step at a time. I know that we will make it and I know that our home will be more beautiful for our hard (albeit slow) work. I know that every young couple is better off for learning the hard way, for not pouring themselves into more (expensive) house than they can manage, for coming by a beautiful home by the sweat of their brow so-to-speak. I just want things to be pretty. And nice. And safe. They don't need to be perfect, or expensive, or even absolutely the most trendy thing ever.
The most bitter pill to swallow is that there are some either stupid or dishonest people who think shortcuts are the right way to do things. They are willing to make things appear nice on the outside in order to get the home to sell, all the time the choices that they've made, I have to undo at double, triple, quadruple (etc.) the cost. It would have been so much more cost-effective to do it RIGHT the first time.
It truly is a slow learning curve.