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Home Buyers Wants And Needs Checklist

You already know that determining how much you can afford is one of the first steps to buying a home, but equally essential is creating a list of your needs vs. your wants before shopping for a home. Most people get these two confused. Understanding and clearly defining what you are looking for in a home will help your real estate agent clear away the noise and save you time from looking at homes that won't work. 

The Difference Between A Home Buying Want & A Home Buying Need

The line between a want a need can often blur. To be able to differentiate wants from needs when buying a home, it's important to understand how each are defined.

A need is something you can't do without and are unwilling to compromise. As an example, you may need three bedrooms to accommodate all of the members of your family. Needs could include things such as parking, school district, location, electricity, air-conditioning, and more.

A want is an optional feature that would be nice to have but isn't a deal breaker. You may want a pool that you can cool off in on a hot summer day, but you could also live without a pool. Wants could include things such as flooring, paint color, landscaping, storage space, floor plan, modern fixtures, and more.

Common House Hunting Needs

  • Square footage for comfortable living

  • Adequate number of bedrooms

  • Appropriate number of bathrooms to support the entire family

  • Backyard for children or pets to play in

  • Access to good schools

  • Location that isn't too far from work

  • A price that's within budget

Common House Hunting Wants

  • Specific carpeting/flooring

  • Waterfront view

  • Pool

  • Hot tub

  • Attached garage

  • Nice landscaping

  • Fireplace

  • Modern appliances

  • Open floor plan

  • Specific exterior or interior paint colors

Why It's Important To Differentiate Wants From Needs When Buying A Home

Differentiating wants from needs might seem like a trivial exercise, but it can help you tremendously while house hunting. When you clearly define what you want and what you need, you:

  • Immediately eliminate homes that aren't a good fit

  • Prevent emotional buying

  • Work your way towards identifying a home that will fit your needs

  • Help your real estate agent refine your home search

  • Earn the confidence you need to act quickly when the right home arises

  • Gain the ability to compromise appropriately

How To Create Your Home Buying Wants & Needs List

Be careful when creating your list of needs vs. wants for your next home. If too many items fall into the need column, you can severely restrict the number of homes available to you. Keep an open mind- some of the features you want may be easily added once you purchase the home. You may have a hard time adding another bedroom, but changing the color of kitchen cabinets is an easy and inexpensive update.

Start With The Basics

Bedrooms, bathrooms, home size, and location are usually great places to start. If you know you want a short commute or access to particular schools, you can narrow your search radius. From there, determine what you need to live comfortably. Do you need space for everyone to spread out, or dedicated office space to work from home? If you have dogs, you may need a house with a yard but want one that is fenced. More than anything, these basic parameters will narrow your search results considerably to help you find the best home.

Refine The Details

Once you've applied the broad strokes, it's time to fill in the details. Formal living spaces, the home's location within a community (i.e., waterfront, cul-de-sac, close to amenities), finishes like flooring and appliances, and exterior features will likely fall in the wants category but will help to refine your search criteria further. If you find a home you love, but it doesn't have a pool, is the yard large enough to have one built, or would you have access to a community pool? These are the questions to ask yourself when looking at homes.

What Happens If A Home Doesn't Meet All Of Your Needs?

Naturally, the longer your needs list is, the less likely you are to find a home that meets all of your needs. What happens if a home is missing one or two of your needs?

The first thing to consider would be whether or not remodeling is an option. Could your need be added into the home? How much would it cost to change the home to meet your needs and is that something you would eventually have the budget for? If a home could eventually meet your needs after some remodeling, it could still be worth considering.

As you evaluate the home and your needs you'll also want to consider whether or not your needs that aren't being met are realistic and how important those needs are to you. Home buying involves tradeoffs and compromises. It's possible you categorized something as a need that may have actually been a want. If the need that isn't being met is a lower priority, it might also be worth compromising for if the home meets other needs that are more important.

The final thing to consider would be how long you plan to live in the home. If the home is a starter home that you plan to move out of in a few years, it may be okay if it's missing a few of your needs. You can let the home appreciate and then eventually trade up for a home that does meet all of your needs.

After weighing all of these factors you'll hopefully have more clarity over whether or not the home won't work, or whether it's still worth considering.

Free Downloadable Home Buying Wants & Needs Worksheet

We've broken down various home considerations by category. All you have to do is run through the list and classify each feature as a want, need, or something you don't want or need.

To help you get started, download your free Needs vs Wants worksheet.

Eaton Realty Can Help You Find The Most Suitable Home For You

Remember that every home is unique, and you may have to make compromises. Your realtor will help you define your needs and find the most suitable home.

Contact us to share your needs and wants, and an experienced real estate agent from the Eaton team will guide you through the process to find you a perfect home.

Questions? Speak With A Real Estate Expert


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