What do you want in a home? It’s a simple question but it’s not necessarily the right one. Instead ask yourself this question. What do you really want in a home, and what do you really need in a home. Carefully review your wants and needs it’s a key step when starting your home search. The truth is you’re not likely go get everything you want in a home. Your home search can be an overwhelming experience unless you separate the things you truly need from the amenities you’d love to have but can live without.
Let me breakdown the difference between “needs” and “wants.” Your needs are the genuine must-haves that leave little room for compromise. Here are some examples of needs-the right neighborhood, the right layout of a home, keeping in your budget, sufficient number of bedrooms and bathrooms, a comfortable eat-in kitchen, updated plumbing and wiring, a backyard for your children or pets with ample room for entertaining, easy access to the community, close commute to work and adequate square footage for living space. Wants are the nice-to-have characteristics in a home, but they are not necessities. This is where most home buyers misplace their priorities by not realizing that many of their wants become a “wish list” that you will develop over time. Your “wish list” may include some of these things- updating the fixtures, remodeling the kitchen or bathroom, replacing carpet or flooring, landscaping or a pool.
Now that you have an idea of the difference between “wants” and “needs” how do you incorporate them into your home search? I always suggest buyers create a list- a real on-paper list. Use this list as a guide as you view each house. Share this list with your realtor. Your list is a great reference tool and will assist you when narrowing down what property you liked and why. The list in essences helps set your priorities during your home search. Here’s an example of some of things your list should include- features and amenities you need, features and amenities you want, features and amenities you don’t want and deal breakers.
For first time buyers it can be tough to get started. In this case reflect upon where you are living now. What is it you like and don’t like about your current living situation? What features and amenities do you like in other people’s homes? What are your plans and goals for you over the coming years and how will that affect both your wants and needs. Here are some key things to consider. Location- do you need to be in a certain school district or closer to work. Are you looking for an urban setting or do you prefer the suburbs. What will your property taxes be and homeowners insurance. These two things can vary depending on location and can impact your home buy experience or budget. What size and type of home do you need. Do you need a single family home or are you open to a townhouse or condo. What amenities are you looking for. For the first time home buyer identifying the amenities and features is important. Determine if any are true needs or wants. It’s all about prioritizing. The key is to be honest and flexible with yourself. As you look at more homes it’s not uncommon for both needs and wants to change. Some amenities you thought were essential might become less so as you look at more homes. One other factor to think about is how long you plan to live in the home you purchase. If you are a first time buyer this may be your starter home with plans to move in the near future. If you are downsizing or relocating you may expect to stay in the home for a period of ten years or more.
The last advice I can give you is to stay within your budget. Newer features and sought after amenities are likely to drive up a seller’s asking price. You want to live in your new home with financial comfort. Buying beyond your budget to have everything you want can leave you in a state of what I call “house poor.”