Love at first sight is every homeowner-to-be’s dream. You find a house for sale and love everything about it, from the age of the home to the color of the roof right down to the white picket fence. While you’ll definitely find a home you and your family fall in love with, expecting every single thing to be perfect is a bit, well, unrealistic. Especially if you’re not entirely sure what it is you’re looking for.
To help you figure out what you want in a home (and bring you closer to that falling-in-love feeling), we put together these four tips.
It might sound corny, but the best place to start is with the question: What is in your dream home? Maybe it’s perfect-sized bedrooms, a southern-facing picture window, a spacious lush backyard… Or perhaps it’s a high-rise apartment in the city within walking distance to restaurants and museums.
But there’s a difference between what you want in a home and what you absolutely need. Be honest with yourself about what you genuinely cannot live without. You might also want to give yourself a reality check now and consider your budget. How much home can you afford? And where can you afford it?
Now that you’ve got that in mind…
Look at the list you created for your dream home and work backward from there. Start categorizing each item on that list as a want or a need. There’s no need to bump off wants now, but it’s helpful to keep those in mind as you start looking at homes.
With this exercise, it’s helpful to consider what you’re willing to pay more for (such as a shorter commute or better school district) and what you could live without (like a three-car garage or a vaulted ceiling). Remember that there’s a lot you can change about a home (like landscaping, carpet colors, or even a deck). Make sure you and your partner or family are on the same page with this list to cut down on house-hunting bickering.
We get it. You’re looking to move into your new dream home, and you can’t imagine ever doing this again. But the truth is, you’re probably going to move again at some point. So, it’s a good idea to also consider what “value items” are on your list. These items are features that add value to the property for future buyers. Work with your real estate agent to figure out which of the items on your list are high-value items that may come in handy when you’re looking to sell in the future, like hardwood floors or beautiful landscaping.
Many prospective buyers start out full of energy and excitement – you could look at three dozen homes in one weekend! You’re ready! But you’re not likely to find your dream home right away. It’s easy to get worn down after you’ve spent weekend after weekend looking at houses.
To cut down on this fatigue from the start, take that list of wants and needs, and apply it to your search. Don’t tour every available home in a 5-mile radius of your dream neighborhood; spend some time narrowing down your list. You’ll be happier with the results and will keep your stamina up throughout the entire process. You also might start to narrow down that list, or even alter it all together, after you’ve seen a few homes and realize that an open floor plan is more important than a three-season porch.
Finding your dream home isn’t always easy, but it’s within reach. These four tips will help you narrow down the search and evaluate what you’re really looking for in a home.