A home-buying wish list may sound like a cathartic way to imagine a dream home that's dripping with luxury everywhere you turn, but it's really a practical way to help homeowners narrow down their options. When buyers look at too many homes, they may find that each property starts to run together. Use this tool as a means of viewing just a few homes that will meet all of your criteria.
Questions to Ask
Wish lists start with the answers to the following questions:
- Would you be willing to purchase a home that's more than 10 years old? More than 70?
- Do you need to live near a bus or subway line?
- Can children be driven to school or will they need to walk?
- How much effort are you willing to put into repairs and renovations?
- Do you need a formal dining area or can a table be placed in the kitchen?
- Will you need to prepare for the home for those with physical disabilities?
If you're planning to host your elderly parents at some point, you may need to look for a one-story ranch for maximum accessibility. Similarly, if you're planning to have children, you may want to buy a home with carpeting to provide extra traction for unsteady feet. While a lender will have the ultimate say in how much you can afford, you have plenty of control over the home you choose within your budget.
As buyers sketch out their wish list, they should separate it into the absolute deal-breakers. For example, you may prefer a full two bathrooms but you'll settle for one full plus a half bathroom. Consider how large of a yard you want, the ideal type of HVAC system, and the type of home that will work best for you Some people prefer smaller homes so they can cut back on the amount of cleaning and maintenance they have to perform.
Room for Flexibility
If there aren't many homes that are meeting your minimum criteria, be prepared to be a little flexible along the way. You can always install carpeting or central air if you absolutely need to. You may also need to compromise on the age of the home, which is highly encouraged as long as the home passes inspection.
A wish list doesn't have to be the defining document for a home, but it can keep you from seeing homes that are absolutely not right for you. The more you can streamline your home buying journey, the less stressful the transition will be.