Like any major purchase, a home should fit your wants and needs. It can be hard to visualize your perfect home, let alone find it on the market. It is rare to find a home that checks every one of your boxes within your budget. You’ll need to separate your wants from your needs and learn to prioritize your wants.
While you might have a general idea of what you want your home to be like, there’s a lot to consider before you go house hunting. This article will walk you through how to evaluate what you really want in a home and compare options without becoming overwhelmed.
Step 1: Your Perfect Home
Start by visualizing your perfect home, then work backward. The big picture is all you need here. Do you want a single-story home? Do you want a big yard with room for a garden? Would you prefer a condo with an ocean view? This daydreaming exercise will help you narrow down your home search.
Once you have the big picture figured out, some decisions will be made for you. You might decide that you really want a big yard, so some neighborhoods will be completely out of the question. Or, if you’ve decided you want an ocean view condo, your budget will probably narrow down your search.
Other things might not be as obvious. For example, if you want a large tub but the master bath just doesn’t have space. Use these easy decisions to fill in the details you can, then move on to the next step.
Step 2: Accept the Things You Can Change
There will be perfect home features that you can add or change yourself. If you’ve always dreamed about a pure white kitchen, keep in mind that you can paint the cabinets and change the appliances. If you can’t stand carpet, remember that you can always install hardwood. Don’t let something like this rule out what would otherwise be a good home for you. This might take a little creativity but is worth it if you are on a budget or have some handy-man skills.
Step 3: The “Value Items”
While you might love having a pool or keeping chickens in your backyard, not every homeowner wants these things. You may also find features of a home that just don’t suit you. Again, if they can be changed, don’t let these scratch the home off your list. Instead, think about their value.
Talk to your realtor about whether you would be able to negotiate the cost of repainting the lime green exterior of a home. Also, consider whether changes you want to make would need to be reversed when it comes time for you to resell the home.
If these things can’t reasonably be changed, like an in-ground pool you don’t want, you might have to pass on the home. This can be disappointing but remember the big picture.
Step 4: The Logistics
Even the perfect home might not be in the perfect spot. Don’t forget to think about your job, your mode of transport, and what your commute will be like. If you drive a work truck, you’ll want to make sure there is space in the driveway. If you bike to work, you probably don’t want a home at the top of a steep hill. If these lifestyle features can’t be modified, you should pick a different house.
On the flip side, if you find a home closer to your work, you might be able to stretch your house budget with gas savings. Even better, you might be able to give up paying for parking five days a week. These benefits could outweigh the weird stairway into the attic of a home you were going to pass on!
Step 5: Make your Checklist
Now that you’ve thought long and hard about the things you want, make a checklist. You can put this checklist in order of priority. For example, the first few items should be the number of bedrooms, how many floors the house has, and so on. Then you can get into whether or not the kitchen has an island.
Include space at the top for the price and the neighborhood, and space at the bottom for notes. This will help you and your real estate agent evaluate homes without feeling overwhelmed.
After a few viewings, you will have tangible lists to compare each home. If you are finding that the kitchen island is only a possibility if you push your budget to its limit, you might reevaluate how much you want it. Or you might be pleasantly surprised to see that a mid-range option checks most of your boxes. Either way, you will be glad you took the notes and checked the boxes while everything was fresh in your mind.