Choose Your Battles When Buying a Home

Couple buying new apartment

A fenced-in yard. Double sinks. A wrap-around porch. An open floor plan. Solar panels. There are just so many things we want our new home to have.

However, when shopping for our dream home, it’s essential to steer the dream a little bit more toward reality. No home will have every single feature you desire, so before you set out on the search, sit down, think hard and narrow down your list of must-haves. Must-haves are usually rooted in practicality—a classic case of needs vs. wants. Some important musts, therefore, often involve:

  • The number of bedrooms and/or potential to turn a room into an additional bedroom—are you planning on children? Need space for an in-law to move in?
  • The master bedroom—is it big enough for your king bed, and does it include a master bath?
  • The number and condition of other bathrooms
  • The yard—how much space and privacy do you need to be happy?
  • The kitchen—do you need a new kitchen with high-tech appliances, or are you willing to update down the road?
  • Closet space— is there adequate storage for your current belongings with room to expand?
  • The school district—an obvious factor if you have or are planning to have children, but also important if you don’t, as it can affect your home’s value
  • Proximity to work—are you willing to commute, or is a walkable community a high priority?
  • New construction—are you looking for a maintenance-free environment, or the charm of an older home with DIY options?

Of course, your musts are very unique to you, and, therefore, may vary from the above. The key factor in determining a must-have from a nice-to-have is whether it is something that can be cost-effectively and efficiently accomplished down the road, such as crown molding or an outdoor kitchen. Musts should be those features that are difficult and costly, if not impossible, to handle on your own, such as a bigger garage or a new roof.

Remember that, above all, your “dream” home will be the one that grabs you for some intangible reason, or for a combination of unexpected features you never knew you wanted until you saw them, so try to keep your must list to a minimum and your open mind to a maximum—and, most of all, enjoy the process.

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