As you begin your home search, you probably have heard that you need to determine what you "want and need" in a home. Every homebuyer has vastly different wants and needs. Perhaps one homebuyer thinks it would be nice to have a yard but could live without it, while another has to have a large plot of land because they're moving with horses. These two homebuyers have different wants and needs and, by identifying them at the beginning of the home search, a good realtor will show them homes that match their needs, budget and include a few of their wants. To ensure a realtor is showing you listings that will potentially turn into a sale, you should start the home buying search with a list of wants and needs.
For many homebuyers, these two things can often be confused. A buyer will be set on having a number of wants that must be fulfilled by a home, but can't find a home that fits all their wants that are also in their budget. When this happens, they either have to increase their budget (which is unlikely) or decrease the wants they must have in a home. That's why it's important to identify your wants and needs in a home before starting the actual home search. Landmark Home Warranty has created an interactive and customized checklist. You can fill it out and download it to more easily show your realtor what you want and need in a home.
Before filling out the chart, let's look at needs and wants. The three categories in the checklist are:
- A need is something absolutely have to have when purchasing a home. If the property doesn't fit with this need, then it's a deal breaker, and you won't pursue the property anymore.
- A want is something that you may or may not like about the home, but you can easily change it in the future.
- Don't Care
- This is a part of the home you could give or take. It isn't selling the property to you, but it also isn't something that makes you dislike the property.
Now that you know a bit about each of these options, go through our checklist of items that could be needs and wants in your home.
At the end of this checklist, if you enter your email address, you will automatically be sent a downloadable PDF of your answers. You can print this or send it onto your realtor so they know what you're looking for in a home.
As you're going through the questionnaire, let's look at some of your possible needs and wants a bit more in-depth.
As we talked about before, a need is something that is a deal-breaker if it's not included. You wouldn't buy the home because of these items. Here are some common needs that homebuyers have when purchasing a house:
As you begin shaping your wants and needs list, the very first thing you should look at is your budget. This may seem like a strange place to start when thinking of what you want in a home, but it's actually your first need. You need the home to be within this price range, or else you won't purchase it. Budget is usually your first deal breaker "“ if a home is over your price range, then you'll generally not give it a second thought.
If you're serious about buying a home then you should have already gotten a pre-approval letter for a mortgage from a lender. Focus on that number when beginning your search for a home.
Next, a need for many homebuyers is their location. Consider commute times for a moment. What is your cutoff for how long it takes you to get to work? An hour? Two hours? Can you honestly commit to driving four hours a day to your job? If you can, location isn't necessarily a large need for you to consider. If driving four hours there and back is absolutely unacceptable, then location is a need for you and you should factor in how long your commute will be from the homes you're browsing.
There are a number of things that factor into where a home needs to be located that may or may not pertain to you. If you have children, you may be set on living within a certain school district. If you commute to work, having a shorter commute may be an important factor. If you're living in a city area, you may worry about the safety of the neighborhood and the crime factor.
Like all of these needs, you may need to evaluate what parts of the location you can live without and which ones you absolutely have to have if you can't find a home that suits you perfectly.
Next, determine how much space you'll need in a home. Not only should you factor in your current family size, but think about the size of your future family. If you and your partner are considering starting a family while in the home, or are having your children move out, make sure to purchase a place that has the right amount of space for you. Think about how many bedrooms you need, how many bathrooms you need, how much storage space you'll need and how much of a yard you'll need based on your family size (including pets).
Obviously there are ways to change homes to match your space needs (an unused walk-in closet could become a small office space) so as you begin touring homes, these stipulations may change. However, you know best how you will need to utilize the space, and if a home just will not work for your furniture, lifestyle or family, you'll need to keep searching.
As we mentioned before, your wants in a home are things that you'd love to have, but won't necessarily deter you from purchasing the home if it matches your needs.
These are OK to want, but you have to understand that these wants may not match with the needs you've determined above. Some of these wants can easily be changed while you live in the home. Keep in mind, though, as you change the home, make sure you're adding value items that will attract buyers and increase your profit if you decide to sell the home in the future, like granite countertops, or redone bathroom tile. Read more about updates you can do to your home that will increase its value here.
If you abhor the color yellow and you are looking at a home with yellow walls, you probably aren't going to call it a deal breaker. Having a home with the right colored walls is a definite want. It may mean you have less to do if the walls are already a color you love, but you should never pass up a home simply because the aesthetics aren't exactly what you want. You can change and update almost any part of the home including:
- Paint Color
- Hardwood Floors
- Open Floor Plan
- Remodeled Kitchen or Bathroom
- Style of Appliances
When looking at homes, don't let the aesthetics of the home outweigh your actual needs.
The amenities in a home are often where homeowners get confused between needs and wants. You don't necessarily need a fireplace, a pool, a deck or a landscaped yard when you purchase the home. All of those things could be added after you purchase, or you could live without them. Some examples of amenities that may be more of a want when you're looking at a home are:
- Hot Tub
- Living in a Homeowner's Association
- Brand new systems and appliances
Some of these things may be needs for you when you first glance at them, but once looking at the homes in your budget, you may find a home that fits only some of your needs. In this case, you'll soon find that some of your "needs" aren't necessarily needs, and you can find ways around them. For example, needing brand new systems and appliances may seem like a need, but if the seller purchases a home warranty for you, that may not be such a big need anymore. The home warranty will repair or replace well-maintained systems and appliances that have failed from normal wear and tear.
There you have it! You're now a needs and wants expert! It's important to remember that no home will be perfect, and you won't get everything you want. Once you make sure you understand those expectations, you'll have more options and your home shopping experience will be more productive. Remember to fill out the needs and wants form and email it to yourself so you can share it with your realtor. You could also have both you and your partner take the quiz and compare your answers to see what type of home would fit both of you!