With the advent of the internet and having so much information at our fingertips, it is quite easy to get lost when it comes to the exact specifics on the list of absolutes that the dream home must have. You have websites like Pinterest and Houzz that showcases beautifully designed spaces and homes that would make anyone shopping for their dream home salivate. And then there's also HGTV with their home make-over shows (Hello Chip and Joanna Gaines and Property Brothers!)that highlights must have fixtures and property amenities. The result is usually a mile-long list of absolute must-haves that can be close to impossible to accomplish given a specific budget.
There are two questions that we would normally ask a prospective home buyer:
- What do you want in a home?
- What do you need in a home?
To a lot of people, the difference between these two is usually a blur. So if you are planning to buy a home anytime soon, one helpful advice is to be prepared to know the difference between the needs and wants so that you are confident about the homes that you want to make offers on when the time comes.
Start with Your Dream Home...
Think about your ideal home. What does it look like? Where is it located? Does it have manicured lawns or a huge backyard? Is a porch or a patio included in your vision? Now, think about your budget. How much house can you afford?
If you're ready to take the step in your home buying process, the first thing you should do is to get pre-approved for your mortgage. This allows you to know where your limits are in terms of budget. That price also determines which of the "initial must-haves" you might have to let go of.
... And Work Your Way Backwards
As the picture of your dream home becomes clearer, you might find that there are some features you don’t want to sacrifice and for which you’re willing to pay more. Some examples could be: living within a few minutes drive from work, an open kitchen or that huge backyard your kids could play in, or even something less common, like wheelchair access for a family member.
The best thing to do now is to list down the features of the home that you would like and classified into these three qualifications:
- ‘Must-Haves’ – if this property does not have these items, then it shouldn’t even be considered (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’ 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!
One good way to look the difference between wants and needs is this: wants are things that you can add or change on your own. You will know that a feature is part of your wants list if, when faced with a choice between two features, you can say "it might be nice to have that too but I would rather..." Being armed with the knowledge of a budget and this list figured out will save you from getting lost in the barrage of information being presented to you when you start your home-owning journey.
Final To Do
Keep in mind that buying a home is an investment all on its own. So when you do buy, aside from being on the lookout for your personal wants and needs, do keep an eye out for "value items". These are features that add value to the property like dual-pane windows, granite countertops, hardwood floors, land, nice landscaping (but don’t forget you’ll have to maintain it) and even intangibles like a beautiful view and being in a top-rated school district.
Finally, know that one of the qualities of a great real estate agent is to be able to help you determine the difference between a valuable feature and personal touch. Your agent knows the area, know which great homes are within your range and which aren't, and which added features would make you a home investment winner.
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