How do you narrow down your home search? Flip a coin? Ask a magic 8 ball? Ask your best friend? Guess?
I wouldn’t want to have to rely on any of those methods to pick out my new home. Neither should you! Instead, let me show you how to make searching for a new home easier from the start.
Using Needs and Wants To Narrow Down Your Home Search
The real trick on how to narrow down your home search is taking the time to think before you even start looking at any listings. Considering there are thousands upon thousands of options when buying a home, you need a solid plan or map to get what you really want.
You mean I shouldn’t even look at listings?
Not yet! I am a big proponent of ease of access to real estate information online, otherwise I wouldn’t bother writing this. But I recommend making a proper Needs vs. Wants list before you start looking online.
Failure to make such a list leads to real estate information overload, which can make the whole home buying process long and exhausting. Barry Schwartz, a Swarthmore College psychologist, suggests that U.S. consumers have moved beyond the happiness threshold. These consumers have many, many options, and making so many decisions causes unhappiness.1
So do yourself and your Realtor a favor. Take out a sheet of paper or open a spreadsheet and do this next part before you Google anything else.
Make a Needs and Wants List
However you choose to document the needs and wants for your next home, keep this in mind. Make the list easy to share with your Realtor, review when browsing online listings, and carry with you when your out walking through homes.
Needs are items that should be non-negotiable. An example would be needing a single story home because you or a family member has a tough time walking up stairs.
Although needs are usually non-negotiable, that doesn’t mean they need to be exact. There are often many ways to accommodate the same need. An example could be the need for a home office that can be satisfied by a basement work space.
Wants are hard to stop writing down, to be honest. Try to tailor your wants to how they will fit into your daily lifestyle. An example would be wanting a 6-burner executive chef’s stove because you love to cook everyday. Now, suppose you still want that stove but will rarely use it. Maybe that want isn’t as important as you originally thought.
When evaluating your top wants, make sure to think about how they will affect your daily life.
Deal Breakers and Priorities
After you form your needs and wants list, it is time to ask yourself, “What items on my list will prevent me from buying a home?” Highlight, star or prioritize these items. Any home you look at in the future should have these items before you even consider looking at the other amenities of the home.
I also recommend taking all your wants and prioritizing them by importance. I would love to say that everyone gets everything they want in a home, but the reality is that perfect is hard to find.
Narrow Down Your Home Search With Your List
When searching for properties online, keep your list handy. Start your search with your deal breakers, then your needs, and finally your wants. The list will keep you focused and on the right track. Make sure anyone helping with your purchase decision understands your wants and needs, including your Realtor.
Narrowing down your home search this way will give you the peace of mind that your emotions aren’t the only thing driving your real estate decisions.
Ready to start your list? Here’s an example of a needs and wants list. Copy and use it yourself if you would like. I have included some common questions to help you get started.
Do you have an suggestions on how to narrow down a home search? Let me know in the comments.
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