Buying a home is a complex process, with so many moving pieces and major decisions it's easy to feel overwhelmed. In addition to working with a trusted agent, one of the best ways to minimize stress in the house shopping process is creating a thorough wish list. By identifying what matters to you before you shop, you will be prepared to make the right decision for your household.
Not sure where to start? Here are a few things we recommend everyone consider when making their home shopping wish list.
Wants vs Needs
We all have a dream home in mind, and sometimes we are lucky enough to find it at the right time for the right price! Most of the time, though, we have to decide which features of a home are must-haves and which are icing on the cake.
Make a list, together with your partner if you are shopping for a house together, of the features the home absolutely must have. This might include the number of bedrooms or bathrooms, a kitchen that is not in need of renovation, a fire place, a spacious backyard, or any other feature that matters to you.
Make another list of things you would love to see in the home that you could live without. For example, you might like to have an extra half bath, but if a home has everything on your must have list you could easily be happy with one less bathroom.
These lists are highly specific to your own household, so take your time to identify your wants, your needs, and your top priorities. Deciding what matters most to you before you begin the search for your home will make decision making much less stressful and much more efficient.
As you consider a home, think about how long you plan to live there. Of course plans may change, but if you know you plan to grow your family, begin working from home, or start caring for an elderly parent in the near future, you will want to keep those plans in mind as you decide if a home is right for you.
Buying a home you love right now that you will quickly outgrow or need to change may be a major frustration in the future.
We cannot overemphasize the importance of getting pre-approved for your mortgage before beginning the home shopping purchase. This will provide you with real numbers, as well as make you ready to put in an offer as soon as you would like to. Looking at your mortgage pre-approval, determine the budget you are comfortable with, and how flexible it is. Setting these numbers before you begin your home shopping journey is one of the best ways to decrease stress and set yourself up for success.
The location of the home is one of the only features you will not be able to change. Don't risk falling in love with a home that is in the wrong location. Instead, decide which neighborhoods in the area will work for you, and let us know exactly what you are looking for.
This might be a certain commute time, proximity to certain community amenities, a school district you would like to be in, or the walkability of the neighborhood. Whatever you are looking for, decide which locations will work for you before you shop to streamline your process.