Whether you’re a first-time home-buyer or you’re ready to upsize, downsize, or move to another location, you’ve got to be precise about what it is you want in a home.
You may have some ideas of what you’d like your home to entail, but there are numerous options you may not have considered. Before you ask a real estate agent to show you properties, you have to provide that agent with detailed criteria of your wants, needs, and budget.
When you talk with your real estate agent about what you imagine your home to be, there’s more to talk about than the number of bedrooms, location, and upgrades. Here are some ways to assess your needs as a buyer.
Start with Your Wants
Dreaming up your perfect-house wish list is a fun process, but don’t lock on to any particular features just yet.
Creating your list of wants is a conceptual phase where you can let your imagination go wild. Understand, though, that you’ll be narrowing down that list, exchanging wants for needs, and compromising to fit your budget.
- Are you visualizing a single story or a multi-level house?
- Are you shopping for a single-family home or a condominium or townhouse?
- Does your dream home have fine finishes like granite countertops or hardwood floors (which can also add to resale value)?
- What kind of yard, if any, do you foresee in your future?
- Do you need a fenced yard for dogs and kids, or do you prefer to avoid the landscaping maintenance?
Perhaps you’re thinking about a finished basement, a sunroom or deck, fireplaces, views, privacy, acreage, or other embellishments.
- Does your home back up to a golf course, lake, preserve, or open space?
- Do you prefer an older house with character or modern new construction?
- Is there a particular architectural style you’re attracted to?
- Maybe it has a swimming pool or hot tub.
- Is your preference urban, suburban, or rural?
- Do you want to be part of a tight-knit community with a homeowners association, or is privacy important to you?
Your wants are things you’d like to have in your new home, but that you may be willing to compromise on when it’s time to shop within your price point and location.
Be Clear About Your Needs
You might want that fourth bedroom to use as an office space, but you may only require three bedrooms to accommodate your household’s needs.
Some features may seem so basic you don’t pay them attention during your conceptual, imaginative phase. For example, some climates require air conditioning, while others may not. Is air conditioning a requirement for you?
You may be adamant about living in an area that has highly-rated schools and nearby parks, or that you will only consider houses on cul-de-sacs.
- Is a garage a must to store your vehicles or use as a workshop?
- Are you insistent on an open floor plan?
You can simplify creating your list of needs by identifying what you’d consider being deal-breakers. What items are you unwilling to negotiate?
What Can You Add Later?
You might feel like a patio or deck is a requirement, but that’s something that, technically, you could add later on down the road when time and money allow. It doesn’t necessarily need to be a deal-breaker.
The same is true with carpets, paint colors, cabinets and countertops, landscaping, and even a swimming pool.
When it comes time to trim your wish list to fit into your budget, consider these elements as home improvement projects for the future. Unless, of course, one of your needs is a house that’s move-in ready, no fixer-uppers.
What Can You Afford to Buy?
Your budget is the determining factor in which parts of your wish list may have to be modified or postponed. Before you start the house hunt, you should be pre-approved for your home mortgage loan.
Your home mortgage loan lets you know, definitively, what you can afford to buy. Knowing what price point to shop within will save you and your real estate agent time and energy while avoiding frustration.
Other benefits of pre-approval for your home mortgage loan are that it saves time once you make an offer, ensures that you won’t have a financial fall-through that prevents you from buying, and gives you purchasing power, which goes a long way with sellers.
Your Real Estate Agent as Your Ally
Your real estate agent will discuss your wish list and deal-breakers before looking for properties.
He or she can also provide you real-time estimates of property types and values and explain to you what’s affordable and what may need to be trimmed from the wish list. It’s not uncommon for first-time buyers to expect much more from a property than their money can buy.
For example, if you’re determined to live in a specific area where market values are high, you may have to settle for less square footage, or a basic house that doesn’t have the upgrades, features, and fine finishes.
On the flip side, you might compromise on location so that you can have more square footage.
Your real estate agent may also provide you with a Buyer’s Needs Assessment form to fill out, which addresses your budget – and your needs for the structure of the house, such as exterior features, interior features, heating and A/C, location, and more.
Structural features include things like garages, single or multiple story, and basements.
Exterior features include things like a deck, porch, or sunroom. Other exterior features include swimming pools, fenced-in yards, sheds, and landscaping.
Interior features are flooring, open concept, fine finishes, laundry room, finished basement, or if the home needs to be handicap accessible.
Under the Heating and A/C category, you may be asked if you need a home that’s energy-efficient, has central A/C, forced heat, fireplace, or woodstove.
Location includes things like waterfront properties, mountain views, quiet neighborhood, cul-de-sac, strong schools, nearby parks, walkability, or convenient access to public transportation.
You may also be asked about your timeline. Do you need to move quickly because your lease is expiring, or because of a job transfer? Or do you have the time to take to explore more properties with a wider range of options?
There’s more to picking a house than knowing how many bedrooms and bathrooms you need, or what kind of yard you’re looking for. You might be daydreaming about curb appeal, quaint character, or contemporary and sleek.
Talk with your trusted real estate agent about your ideas of homeownership so he or she can show you properties that match your budget and criteria without wasting time shopping for something that doesn’t fit your needs.
Have Questions? Ask JTC Real Estate!
JTC Real Estate is the best source of information about the local community and real estate topics. Give Jane Caddell a call at 562-331-3301 to learn more about local areas, discuss selling a house, or tour available homes for sale