Seeing Potential in a House to Find a Home

There's nothing like before/after pictures to illustrate the potential of a house. Click through to read more about seeing past what is to what could be

We looked at quite a few places before we bought our first house. Seeing potential in a house became one of our favorite parts of the home buying experience. Unfortunately, it’s easy to be put off by a house’s quirks or the way other people live. The way a house smells, how dirty it is, if it’s cluttered or dated, can all be deterrents. However, if you can look past how a house is, and imagine how it could be, there will be a whole segment of the real estate market open to you that others are missing out on. Not only could you be competing against fewer offers, you might also be able to get the house cheaper because of lack of interest from other buyers.

You are giving yourself choice

Others lack of vision can be your gain

Both times we were looking at homes to buy, seeing potential in a house required a lot of imagination. The first house was full of stuff, dirty, had some questionable plumbing and even some mice making it their home. The second was covered (covered!) in dated wall paper, had sea foam green cupboards in the kitchen and smelled heavily of cigarette smoke. No joke, even some of the closets had wallpaper in them. These factors contributed to a lack of interest in the homes and overshadowed their potential. Among other things, they had room for rental suites in the basement, a much-desired combo in our area. Both purchases rewarded us with a diamond in the rough (check out one of our renos here).

When looking for potential in a house, try changing your outlook from “this is so much work” to “with effort, this will be beautiful”. Yes, it takes time, money and sweat. Once you decide you are willing (and can afford) to do the work, you are giving yourself choice.

You are giving yourself choice

Instead of passing on a house just because of sea foam green cabinets, you can find out how to change them. Then, do an estimate on how much it will be to replace them. Or paint them. Or reface them. Likewise, you can remove wallpaper, fix plumbing, paint, re-home creatures and more. Getting the information allows you to make a fully informed decision.

It doesn’t mean that every home needing work will be worth it. Many times, you will decide to pass, even though you are seeing potential in a house. That is ok! Fear not, you haven’t wasted your time investigating options! By doing your “home”work you’re building your knowledge, resources and skill together.  As these build, it will become easier to recognize what is too much work/money and when there is potential in a house. Moreover, the next time you see potential in a house, you will have a broader base of information to start with.

Ultimately, we greatly benefited putting sweat equity into older, neglected homes. Seeing the potential in a house became easier the more we looked and the more research we did.  Your outlook, and the time you invest in assessing a house, will determine if you find your own hidden gems.

-Sean and Denise

What helps you see the potential in a house? Let us know in the comments!


Sean and Denise


Seeing past what is to what could be: finding the potential in a house to make a home

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