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How to Balance Wants with Needs

When you decide it’s time to go house hunting, you probably imagine finding your perfect house. Let me give you a reality check- there is no such thing as a “perfect” house. The challenge in finding a home is to strike a balance between what you need in a home and what you want in a home at a price you can afford.

Before you embark on your home search, you should sit down with your partner and each make a list of the 10 things that are most important to you in a home. Compare lists and see how many of those things you have in common. The items that made both your lists should be a priority when you combine them to make a master list. Next, decide what items are “deal breakers”- things you just can’t live without. If you absolutely will not consider a home that doesn’t have at least 2 bathrooms, then all homes with less than 2 bathrooms should be off your list. Those non-negotiable items should be at the top of your list. Next should be the things that you both agree you would like in your next home and finally the things that would be nice to have but you could live without.

When you are editing your needs and wants list it may be difficult to separate the two. You may think you need granite countertops and stainless steel appliances but that shouldn’t take priority over something like your child’s school district. You can always update a kitchen but you can’t change a school district. You need to look at things that can’t easily be changed like location, square footage and lot size. Cosmetic changes can be made over time and you might even be able to add additional space onto an existing home if everything else about it works for you.

It can sometimes be difficult to look past a home that is very well decorated and furnished to see the bones of the property. Most of the time, the furniture and décor don’t stay with the home so don’t get swayed by the cosmetics of the property. Remember that without the great wall art and designer furniture, you may have a house that will not work for your family because of layout or room sizes which are difficult to change. By the same token, a house with dated décor could be that diamond in the rough that fits all your needs on paper but doesn’t

look too pretty. Most cosmetic fixes are relatively inexpensive. Paint doesn’t cost much but can make a huge difference in the way a room looks. Don’t eliminate a home because the living room walls are painted orange if the rest of the house works. Countertops, backsplashes and flooring can all make a big impact for not a lot of money. Remember, you are buying the structure, not the current owner’s décor and furnishings. Your Realtor can help you narrow down your home search to properties that best fit your needs and wants and are within your budget. They can help you determine what can be easily changed or updated to make a property more suitable for you or to point out what can’t be changed easily and could be a deal breaker.

When you are trying to decide which house fits your needs best, remember some things can be easily changed (paint & flooring) and some things are not changeable (location and square footage). There is no such thing as a “perfect” house but you can find a house that fits the majority of your needs that you can make into the “perfect” house for you.

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