You’ve been dreaming about finding your perfect home for a long time and you’re finally ready. Congrats! Now it’s time to start the search process. If you go into it prepared, you’ll find it less stressful. Here are some tips to help you on your way:
Make Detailed Lists
- Yes, please!
First, make a list of your needs and your wants. (Yes, those are different, so mark each item as to whether it is a WANT or a NEED.) Consider layout, space, style, lot size, neighborhood, and special features (like large windows with a lake view). Scott Rose of Baird & Warner Real Estate told us this: “I always ask buyers what is important to them, i.e. schools, close to work, close to family, community activities, or being close to highways if they go downtown a lot.”
Pro tip: Always consider school districts even if you have no children and no plans to have any. A home in a high-rated school district is likely to sell faster later and more like to increase in property value.
Click here for a more in depth list of questions from Zillow to dig deeper.
- Absolutely not!
Next, make a list of what would make you nuts over time. Be honest. You need to keep those items firmly in mind if you find a house you love that also has items on your “absolutely not” list. Are stairs a deal-breaker? Don’t even look at homes with stairs. Don’t fall in love with a house that has a feature that will ultimately make you unhappy. Same with your budget – don’t torture yourself with beautiful homes you can’t comfortably afford. Don’t even look at homes outside your budget.
Prioritize and Compromise
Prioritize your needs and wants, then prepare to compromise. It’s unlikely you will find a home that meets absolutely all of the items on your list, so go into the search process knowing you will need to make some compromises.
Be sure to consider your most lived-in spaces. If you love to cook, a high-end kitchen should be higher on your priority list. If you spend hours watching movies, the living room will be more important. If you work from home, a fabulous office space will be high on your list.
Outside the Box Viewing
Once you find a home you think could be the one, do some outside-the-box scouting around. Consider what’s next door – but also what could be next door down the road. Really analyze the neighborhood, neighbors, stores, parks, traffic, and changes that might be in the works in the near future. Try this list of questions to consider from Zillow.
View the home at different times of the day. Even if you can’t do another walk-through, it’s worth standing across the street and listening to the noises at night, or making the drive from that home to your office at drive time in the morning. Visit on weekends and during the week. This can cut down on surprises (like super loud neighbors) when it is too late.
If you haven’t already, sign up for Houzz. You can make ideabooks with images of homes you love from every angle to help your realtor understand your perfect home. Houzz is a wonderful tool to help you organize your needs and wants and to communicate them to the pros.
Happy house hunting!