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Prioritizing What You Need and Want in a Home

Updated: Nov 2, 2022

It's time to start looking for a home now that you have been pre-approved and know what you can afford. But if you don't have a clear idea of what you're searching for, your search for a home will stall out very quickly.

It's simple to express a desire for a "older" or "large" home in generic terms. But you must consider your ideal home particularly in order to effectively focus your real estate search. Will your "large" home have a square footage of 5,000 or 2,400? Do you mean a house built before 1900 or before 1980 when you refer to a "older" home?

Make a list of your requirements and wants before going to another open house. Yes, those are two distinct things. Although you might desire one, you could probably manage without one. (Also, it's important to keep in mind that having a pool could result in higher home insurance prices.)

Understand that as you learn more about your home possibilities, your list of requirements will probably change. For instance, proximity to the beach could initially be a necessity, but once you see the size of oceanfront homes you might find within your budget, you might decide that a brief trip to the water is tolerable. Unless your money is limitless, you'll probably have to make some trade-offs along the road.

1. Learn what you can afford

In a competitive market, having your finances in order before looking for a home can make all the difference. Your must-haves on your house-hunting wish list may become more obvious once you know your budget and your level of financial flexibility. Think about it:

  1. Do you have a mortgage pre-approval? If you haven't gotten there yet, we can explain the benefits of pre-approval.

  2. What’s your price range?

  3. What amount have you set up for a down payment? What about unforeseen expenses like upcoming repairs?

  4. Do you want a turnkey home or are you willing to do additional improvements?

2. Consider your current lifestyle, but don’t forget to plan for the future

When it comes to picturing your future home, you can have the most idyllic house in mind or you might not even know where to begin. It could be helpful to start by thinking about your essential demands and house requirements. Start by thinking about your current home. What do you like best about it, and what do you need to change? Consider whether:

  1. You require room for a home office or a potential nursery.

  2. You require any unique amenities for your pets, such as a fenced-in yard.

  3. You value having access for wheelchairs or having fewer stairs.

  4. Do you need a parking spot for your automobile, or would street parking do?

  5. walkability is vital.

  6. You intend to change employment in the next two to three years.

3. Pick your preferred home style and type

It can be easier to decide the features you want in a home once you've got the fundamentals down. Remember to use keywords when searching for homes on Zillow to help whittle down your possibilities as you take into account the many sorts of homes that are currently for sale in the neighborhoods where you wish to purchase. Check your responses against the items on your house-hunting checklist by posing the following questions to yourself:

  1. How many stories do you want?

  2. Do you want to live in a townhouse, condo or single-family house? Read about the pros and cons of condos vs single-family homes.

  3. Could you live in a historic home?

  4. How many bedrooms and bathrooms?

  5. Want a guest room?

  6. What type of flooring do you like?

  7. What architectural styles do you like best?

  8. What’s your favorite room, and what makes spending time there enjoyable?

  9. If you have an outdoor space, do you enjoy spending time there?

  10. Do you enjoy taking care of a yard… or feel burdened by it (be honest!)?

4. Choose a location

You can add an addition to your house to increase its square footage or change the paint colors to give it a new look, but you can't change where it is located. It's simple to get distracted by a home's features, whether you're looking at listings in person or via the Zillow app, but you should also take your surroundings into account.

Ask yourself these questions, and then read our guide to choosing a neighborhood for more tips.

  1. Do you prefer urban, suburban or rural?

  2. What city do you want to live in?

  3. Do you want easy access to highways or public transportation?

  4. How important is the view?

  5. Can you sleep easily with traffic noise?

  6. Do you want to be involved in community activities?

  7. Are there parks within walking or biking distance?

  8. Do the property taxes and/or HOA fees fit your budget?

5. Get to know the neighborhood

Do you believe you've located the ideal house in the ideal location? Even so, it's usually a good idea to look around the area before making a purchase and ask yourself the following questions:

  1. Are you happy with your neighborhood?

  2. Are there enough activities going on around you — or too many?

  3. Do you feel happy with your commute?

  4. Do you have to travel far for basics such as groceries or a doctor’s appointment?

6. Document your visit

Check the features of each home you tour against the features listed in your house hunting checklist. Do any of your must-haves need to be revised?

Get a sense of the place and think about any items you might have forgotten to include on your list. Keep in mind that while staged furniture can be changed and paint can be repainted, other things can't be changed as quickly.

  1. Is there enough room or is there too much?

  2. Where do you need extra room?

  3. What would you say about the design?

  4. Like the finishes and fixtures here?

  5. Are the windows to your satisfaction (sufficient natural light, good placement, too much sun)?

  6. Does the house have a nice exterior?

  7. Is there enough parking space at the house?

Source: Zillow

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