The number of homes for sale is low these days, and that can make finding one that checks all your boxes seem like a challenge. But if you know which features are absolutely essential in your next home and which ones are just nice bonuses, you can find a home that fits your needs.
So how do you go about creating your list of desired features?
The first step is to get pre-approved for your mortgage. Pre-approval helps you to better understand your budget, and that plays an important role in how you’ll build your list. After all, you don’t want to fall in love with a home that’s too far out of reach.
Once you have a good grasp of your budget, you can begin to list all the features of a home you would like. A great way to think about them before you begin is this:
Make a three-column list of “must haves”, “nice to haves”, and “the dream”.
“Must haves” are features that if the house is lacking them, it will not fit your you and your lifestyle. For example, the number of bedrooms or bathrooms could be a dealbreaker, or a location that is too far from work could not fit your needs in terms of commute.
Your “nice to haves” column will list features that you would love to have in a home but could also live without if they were missing. These could be southern exposures, an extra room for a home office, or a washer-dryer in unit. These aren’t dealbreakers, and if you find a home that has all of your must haves and some of these nice to haves, you have found a contender!
Your last column is your "dream state" one. This is where you can really think big. These aren’t features you will need but if you find a home that has all of your must haves, some nice to haves, and any of these dream items, it is a clear winner. Dream list items could be multiple walk-in closets, a spa shower, special high-end fixtures, etc.
After you have made your list and categorized it, have a chat with your real estate agent. Your agent will be able to help you refine the list further, coach you through the best way to stick to it and find a home in your area that meets your needs. They will also be able to put your list into perspective in case it doesn’t realistically match your budget.
Crafting your home search checklist may seem like a small task, but it can save you time and money. It will focus you on what’s important to you and keep you from losing track of the final goal. It’s also one of the keys to being successful in today’s competitive market.