New book helps you find your just-right home

  • Article by: LYNN UNDERWOOD , Star Tribune
  • Updated: May 25, 2013 - 2:58 PM

Looking for a home to rent or buy? A new book offers a blueprint for finding the perfect place.


Author Marianne Cusato compares sidewalks and tree-lined streets to garage-fronted streets to help buyers determine where they want to live in her book “The Just Right Home.”


Marianne Cusato doesn’t believe in love at first sight when buying or renting a home.

Instead, finding the perfect fit involves lots of research, checklists, charts and quizzes, which she provides in her new book, “The Just Right Home: Buying, Renting, Moving — or Just Dreaming — Find Your Perfect Match” (Workman, $12.95). Her paperback also devotes chapters to the pros and cons of renting and owning, why all square footage is not created equal, condo vs. townhouse and even mortgage basics.

We talked to Cusato, a home designer and lecturer on real estate trends and housing, about common buyer mistakes, “live-in value” and why she’s a renter.


Q: How can you determine whether you should rent or own in the current housing market?

A: All the news about real estate being back and low interest rates makes it feel like there’s a frenzy toward buying. But I caution people to step back. The best time to move is when it works for you, not when the rates are low. Home ownership isn’t a get-rich-quick ATM. I have a checklist of the pros and cons of renting vs. owning so you can assess what’s right for you. Where we live touches every piece of our lives. It’s a very emotional decision.


Q: Do you own a home or do you rent?

A: I proudly rent a condo in Miami. I’m not sure where I want to be in a couple years’ time. The mobility allowed by renting works for me. And Miami is a very walkable city.


Q: Why does proximity trump “location, location, location”?

A: Location is a place. Proximity is where that place is in relation to the things we go to during a day — work, school, stores. You have to consider the cost of getting to and from where you want to go and understand the lifestyle you are signing up for. What do you want within a five-minute drive? It’s different for everyone.


Q: What’s the difference between resale value and live-in value?

A: When the market was booming, you bought a house not for your wants but for the next person’s. There’s a whirlpool tub in every home for resale, even though no one uses them. Just buy the house you want to live in, and everything falls into place.


Q: What are the top factors to consider when house-hunting?

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