Balancing Features, Price, and Having it All

For the last two years I’ve been driving an Infiniti sedan, loaded with luxury features. I didn’t realize just how “nice” it was until last month. That’s when my lease ended and I got a great big dose of sticker shock.

Leasing the car was similar to renting an apartment where you may get lots of amenities, but you’re really just borrowing the item from someone else who owns it. In my case, Infiniti Financial still owned the car, and I needed to give it back.

I had been planning for the purchase and had set aside money to buy a car instead of leasing again. I could have bought a lot of perfectly fine cars, brand new, with the cash I had, but I didn’t want a Mazda or a Honda or a Toyota. I wanted a Mercedes or a Lexus or a BMW.

My biggest issue was that I needed an in-dash navigation system for my real estate work, and that option adds thousands of dollars onto the price. The navigation was important because I have absolutely no innate directional abilities. To keep everyone’s stress level down, I need that little computer voice telling me to: “Prepare. To. Turn. Left. In. 500. Feet.”

So in the budget I had (and that I did not want to go over) I had two options:

Option 1) Get a “luxury” car without the navigation system.

Option 2) Get a “practical” car that had a navigation system and that was loaded with features.

I test drove an Acura and a Volvo and I liked them both. But the models I drove did not have navigation, and I really couldn’t get past this. I even tested out models that did have the in-dash navigation to see if it would be worth breaking my budget, but I was shocked at how terrible the navigation systems were. I was used to the Infiniti system with is touch-screen and easy to use. The Acura and Volvo systems both looked like old Atari consoles, with buttons and knobs and an unnecessarily time-consuming interface. Still, I almost bought the Volvo because I liked it so much, but then I decided to at least test drive the very last option on my list – a Nissan SUV. It was on my radar because it had everything I wanted, except for the brand cachet.

I’ve never had an SUV and the only time I’ve driven one is when a date has gotten drunk and I end up driving his car home. (Yes, this has happened multiple times, with multiple dates, in multiple SUVs. But that’s a whole other blog post…) I was surprised at how much I liked the elevated seating and spaciousness.

The Nissan had heated seats, a sunroof, surround cameras, an upgraded Bose stereo, AWD, Bluetooth connectivity, and my beloved IN DASH NAVIGATION. But this navigation system was touch screen and highly intuitive. (Nissan makes Infiniti, so maybe that may be why I connected with the car, too.) So I surprised myself and left the lot with this:

Why am I sharing the story of my recent car purchase on my real estate blog? Because I see a lot of people (myself included) who get temporarily discouraged when they aren’t able to buy exactly what they envision for themselves. But here I am, a couple of weeks later, and I love my car.

I’ve been hauling clients around in it, and it’s spacious, has a very nice interior, and the navigation system hasn’t let me down. Plus, my bank account is still fat and happy.

So when we’re looking at properties, remember what’s really important to you. For me, that navigation system was the one thing that I just had to have. If you really need a stepless ranch, or to be in a certain school district, or acreage – let’s start with that. Let’s look at every possibility in that all-important “one thing you must have” search, and you might be surprised at what you like. And often, your must-have feature is an easy add-on: Fenced-in yard for the pup. Covered parking. An additional bedroom or bathroom. All these things can often be added after the sale. So if you can’t find exactly what you want, you can make exactly what you want.

I’m an agent with Red Robin REALTORS® one of Atlanta’s premier boutique real estate brokerages. Contact me at or 404-247-9981.