When we bought our first home our priorities were pretty simple as they included a roof over our heads and being near family. Yes, we were young, and blissfully happy! I got my pre-approval letter from the bank at 8.25% interest for 30 years and we began our search! We ended up with a brand new red brick ranch house that became “home” for the next 2-3 years!
What’s your biggest “must have?”
Yes, this may seem to be a simple question, but it turns out that the answer is harder sometimes than you might expect!
Always be aware that no matter in what area of life, impulse buying is real. Retail stores know this and take advantage of our emotions by using in-store cues to direct us to impulse purchases. From magazines to peruse (and hopefully end up in your cart) as you wait in line to check out at the grocery store to Amazon which ‘conveniently’ places helpful product offerings of what “other items people buying the item you just put in your basket are also buying…” Impulse buying pressure is everywhere.
Yes, the same holds true when shopping for a home. In the hands of an experienced real estate agent, a home for sale is presented in the best light possible. Real estate agents, home staging experts, your favorite blogs to Pinterest, all advise sellers of the trendiest paint colors, updated lighting in strategic locations, and the presentation of a certain lifestyle for a home which are sure to appeal to a broad section of home buyers. If the home appears to be in move-in condition, it’s even more appealing!
Avoid these distractions by being absolutely clear on what you want and need in a home. This requires making a list.
But, this isn’t necessarily a shopping list, which is actually a list of needs or “must have’s.” Think of it as more of a menu – a list of of available options including both wants and needs, with the latter prioritized.
Creating a menu
This list should contain those features of a home and a neighborhood that are most important to you and your personal lifestyle.
Let’s start with location. To do that, you’ll need to understand what type of property you want to buy. You typically won’t find homes with large spacious lots for example downtown or condos in the suburbs. So, make this decision first:
- Single-family house
Now you’ll need to construct that menu. Remember, your needs take priority, but there’s also room on the menu for “desert,” those things that would be on your “wish list,” if possible. Here are some ideas to get you started:
- Price range
- Should the home be one story or are multiple floors?
- Square footage
- Number of bedrooms and bathrooms
- Do you work from home? If so, put a home office on the menu.
- Preferred yard size, both maximum lot size and minimum!
- Do you need a garage? If so, do you prefer a one, two or three-car?
- Amenities such as a pool (in-ground or nearby?)
- Commute time to the office.
- Age of home? New? “Resales are fine if not older than ….”
- Is there a necessity of having a basement?
- Proximity and quality of schools, parks, etc..
This list is just to get you started! I’m sure you can think of a few more things to add to your “wish list!” Now, edit the list, placing your priorities at the top. These are items that you absolutely cannot do without.
What’s important to other members of the family? You’ll all need to agree on which dream list items are things that may be compromised on, if the need arises. And, from my experience, compromise is part of the home buying process.
So what are you looking for in a home? Take time to figure it out, in the smallest of detail, stick to your list, and you’ll limit your regrets when purchasing your next new home!