Home Buyer's Wish List

There is no denying that the process of buying a home can be exhausting as well as exhilarating. It requires self-knowledge, patience and good communication skills. The first time around can be a real eye- opener into the concrete world of practicality versus the more elusive world of desires and dreams. Our home buying checklist and/or home buying wish list can help you understand what to look for in a home.

Let’s assume that the “A List” has been resolved. As a first time home buyer you are pre-qualified for a loan with a reputable lending institution. Most importantly, you know your price range. You have thought through whether your choice of a home will be purely for investment purposes or to satisfy the nesting instinct. Typically, this decision is part of a 5 or 10 year plan and will include some of both elements. You have reviewed your lifestyle needs and the values which motivate them and prioritized a list of suitable locations for home ownership. Finally, you have chosen a realtor to assist you in your search and represent you through the bargaining and closing stage.

Now you are ready for the “B List”. This is the “Features List” or a description of what you want your future home to look like and live like. Based upon your values and lifestyle, your age and stage of life and any special needs that might exist, it is a list of essentials to be aware of in your personal decision-making process, followed by some wants. Don’t be swayed by a house that offers many of your wants, but lacks the basic features that will make your home serve you well from day to day. It is a list that may be revised again and again throughout your search, as you are faced with the reality of your area’s housing market.

The “B List” or the “Features List” contains these sorts of items:
  • New Construction versus Resale: This is most often a choice that encompasses your views on the management of your resources including time, energy and money. Will the house be energy efficient? Is it built with sustainable /green materials? Will it be easy and economical to maintain?
  • Floor Plan or Spatial Organization: This reflects the obvious choice between an open, flowing floor plan, and one that is more compartmentalized or traditional. Think of the framework or the walls of the house as being its bones; the initial structure is not easily or inexpensively changed. A good floor plan will create “zones” for eating, sleeping, work, play and relaxation and include the spaces required to support these activities (i.e. closets, storage, bathrooms, laundry, garage).
  • Bedrooms and Bathrooms: Think carefully about the number and design of these spaces that are required for you to function in your home. This is very much an age and stage related question. Master suites make lovely retreats, but are not always necessary. An extra half bath in the utility or the garage area can be a lifesaver.
  • Kitchen Design: Over the decades the kitchen has been established as the “heart of the home”. Choose wisely! Good design for efficiency (consider the work triangle), adequate lighting, and plenty of usable storage take precedence over modern appliances and in-vogue surfaces. Additional food preparation and eating spaces are usually considered necessities of modern life.
  • Storage Areas: Dedicated space for storage of everyday use and occasional use items play a vital part of maintaining a well ordered and smooth running home. They include usable kitchen cabinets and drawers, pantries, laundry or utility room cupboards and shelves, linen closets, bedroom closets, coat closets, bathroom cabinets and drawers, book shelves, hobby and office shelves and cabinets, garage shelving and cupboards, shop areas, lawn and garden sheds, and attic or basement space. If the type of storage you need does not exist in the home(s) you are looking at; can it be improvised or added?
  • Natural Light and Ventilation: Natural light and fresh air are directly related to personal health and happiness. Consider the quality, type, size and placement of the windows and doors within the homes you are viewing. Are they energy efficient? How are they maintained? Consider also ceiling height(s) and the presence of ceiling fans, skylights, roof windows and solar tubes.
  • Heating and Cooling Systems: Are they appropriate for the climate and in good repair? Are they energy efficient and allergen free?
  • Outdoor Living: How much and what kind of outdoor space do you require? How much and what kind will you enjoy? Is the property fenced and irrigated? Are you able to maintain this space? New landscaping requires creative energy and intensive care, but mature landscaping has its maintenance issues as well. 
Once you find a home with essentials that fit your preferences from the list above, it’s time to look for some of your wants… the personal items that make a home special to you, but might be negotiable. They most often include items like a fireplace, separate dining room, granite countertops and hardwood floors, walk-in closets and pantries, decks, hot tubs and swimming pools. For first time home buyers these are the items that hit the chopping block first. Take heart, many can be added to a home with good “bones” or realized in the “move-up” stage of house-hunting! Prepare well for this first round of home buying, make prudent decisions now and you’ll be amazed at how easily you manage the next step.
 

If you’d like to learn more about preparing for home ownership, we’d love to have you in one of our classes!