Determine What Kind of Home You Need

If you’ve been reading through each step of my First-time Home Buyers Guide, I have some good news for you.  We’re starting to get to the fun stuff that most people think of when buying a home.  Congratulations, you’re almost ready to find a Realtor and start shopping for a home! Amost…before you start looking for a home, you should have a basic idea of what type of home you’re looking for.  Don’t worry, you don’t have to have everything ironed out, but it helps to have a little bit of an idea.

Your Wants versus Your Needs

Have you ever shopped for a TV, a computer?  The number of choices available is astounding! You can buy a TV for as little as $100 or you can spend $4,000.  Now I’m sure we would all like to purchase the $4,000 TV, but this probably wouldn’t be a wise choice for most of us.  At some point you needed to narrow the number of options you had available and weigh your wants against your needs.

Buying a home is no different.  All of us make compromises when we purchase a home because all of us have limited resources.  You may want a home with 4 bedrooms, a 3 car garage, on 1 acre, near Old Town Fort Collins, but what you will realize is that that home will cost a lot.  As a result, you will have to determine which is more important the acreage or the location.  Maybe you’ll choose a smaller home on a large lot.  The point is you’re going to have to make a compromise.

What is a need?

In my mind a need is something you can’t live without. For example, a need might be a 4 bedroom house since you have 3 children and each of them needs a room.  You might need to be within a certain school district, or you might need to have a yard with a fence since you have a dog.  You might need to be a certain distance from where you work.  These will vary for each person, but the important part is to ask yourself if it’s something you are willing to compromise on or not.

What is a want?

A want on the other hand is more of a wishlist item.  For example, stainless steel appliances or granite counter tops might fit into the want list for a lot of people.  In reality each person’s wants and needs will be different. One person may need a guest room since they have family or friends that visit a lot while this will probably be a want for most people.

Sometimes it might be wise to buy a home that provides the opportunity for you to add your wants later as your time or budget allow.  Granite counter-tops or stainless steel appliances are two things that are typically very easy to add to a home later on.

Here is a list of common wants/needs to get your started:

  • How many bedrooms do I need?
  • How many bathrooms?
  • How many garage spaces?
  • Do I need a guest room?
  • Do I need a dining room?
  • Do I need a yard?
  • Do I have specific needs for pets?
  • Do I have specific needs related to health? (example, a ranch with no stairs)
  • Do I need to be in a specific school district?
  • Do I need to be in a specific type of community?
  • Do I want to manage my own yard/exterior?
  • Do I need an entertainment room?
  • Does it matter if I’m on a busy street?
  • Do I need to be in specific proximity to work/town/public transit etc.?

Being able to give your Realtor a more specific idea of what you are looking for will save both you and them time. Your Realtor will  be able to focus their time more productively on finding you the best home on the market that most closely meets your needs and you won’t spend hours driving around looking at homes that you have no interest in.

<< Previous Step: Shop for a Lender