In this day and age of being able to shop for anything anywhere, it is really important to know what you’re looking for when you start your home search.
If you’ve been thinking about buying a home for some time now, you’ve probably come up with a list of things that you’d LOVE to have in your new home. Many homebuyers fantasize about the amenities that they see on HGTV or Pinterest, and start looking at the countless homes listed for sale through rose-colored glasses.
It’s easy to fall in love with a backyard pool and outdoor kitchen when it’s the heat of summer. But do you really need those to be happy with your next home choice? Would a three-car garage be a convenience or a necessity? Could that she-shed be a future addition instead of a make-or-break right now?
Before you do anything, do this
While it’s tempting to jump right in and start looking at open houses, the first step in your home buying process should be getting pre-approved for your mortgage. This allows you to know your budget before you fall in love with a home that is way outside of it.
Make a Needs and Wants list
The next step is to make a Needs and Wants list with all the features of a home that you would like, and to qualify them as follows:
- Must-Haves – if this property does not have these items, then it shouldn’t make your list (ex: distance from work or family, number of bedrooms/bathrooms).
- Should-Haves – if the property hits all of the ‘must-haves’ and some of the ‘should-haves,’ it stays in contention but does not need to have all of these features.
- Absolute-Wish List – if we find a property in our budget that has all of the ‘must-haves,’ most of the ‘should-haves,’ and ANY of these, it’s the winner!
If you like sports and keeping score, then you can even create a scoring system for your home buying decision. Take your Needs and Wants list and give your Must-Haves 3 points, Should-Haves 2 points, and Absolute Wish-Lists 1 point. For each house you’re considering, write down the number of points for each feature it has. Total them and then compare all your house options to see which ones score the highest. Is there a clear winner? Are you able to narrow your list down to 2 or 3 homes?
Do a gut check to see how you feel about the ones that scored highest. If your favorite home is also the top scorer, then you likely have a winner! If not, do you feel let down because you were really hoping option B would be the winner? The scorecard can help you narrow down your list, but don’t disregard your gut either.
Having this list fleshed out before starting your search will save you time and frustration. It will prevent you from wasting your time looking at homes that are way out of reach, so you can spend your time focused on the ones that are actual contenders. And you’re one step closer to moving in to the home that’s right for you and your budget!
If the search for the perfect home is causing you frustration, then consider another route—building. You can get what you want the way you want it if you’re willing to wait a few months. Call us to see if building might be the best option for you. (406)651-5354.