How to Make a List of What You Want When Buying a House

tips for how to make a list of what you want when buying a house

Keep your search for a home on track with a house hunting wish list. Viewing many homes can leave you overwhelmed and distracted. This is why you need to know how to make a list of what you want when buying a house.

Whether it’s a sheet of paper or a document on your phone, you should refer to it as you evaluate each home that you view. In this way, you won’t get dazzled by a property that ultimately is not a good fit.

Keep in mind that a house with everything that you want is probably not out there waiting for you. Even if you do find it, the home will have some shortcomings. Nothing is perfect, but you don’t want to compromise on your biggest house-hunting priorities. It won’t burden you to glance at your list while looking at listings. You are making a very major purchase, and you want to be happy with your final choice.

What Must a House Have for You to Buy It?

Put your needs and nice-to-haves on house hunting checklist

Your first step is to divide “needs” from “nice-to-haves.” You might need a three bedroom house, but a fireplace is nice to have. You may need a garage, but a deck is nice to have.

You get to decide your needs and nice-to-haves. It’s all about meeting your goals for buying a house in the first place. What they are can vary significantly from person to person.

Most people’s “needs” for a house hunting checklist boil down to these categories:

  • Location
  • Number of bedrooms/baths
  • Size
  • Garage
  • Yard or no yard
  • Home office

Some people also decide that they need certain materials or features, such as:

  • Hardwood floors
  • Stone countertops
  • Swimming pool
  • Soaker tub

Whatever your personal needs are will essentially answer the question what must a house have for you to buy it?

Once you sort your needs from nice-to-haves, organize them in some way that you can refer to them at a glance.

What to Look for When Buying a House Checklist

You will find it helpful to prepare a checklist of some sort. Although a paper checklist might feel old fashioned, it is an effective and easy-to-use tool. Print multiple checklists so that you can quickly mark off items for each house that you look at.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has a pdf printable house wish list checklist.

It covers most things that people might want when buying a house, including community amenities if you’re looking at condos or a gated community.

If using a checklist feels frivolous to you because you can keep track of things in your head, it can help you evaluate homes based on the facts instead of your emotions. Buying a house has a large emotional element. Although emotions matter for making decisions and should not be discounted, a checklist can steer you back to the facts when emotions become distracting.

It’s easy to fall in love with a house due to one or two features that really appeal to you on an emotional level. If you have strong feelings about a house but it does not meet much of your criteria, the checklist will force you to think about why you should ignore your previous priorities in the face of new options. You might decide that you want to deviate from your checklist, but at least you thought things through instead of making an emotional decision that you later regret.

Why Does My Realtor Show Me Homes That Don’t Match What I Want?

Real estate agents make money when they sell houses. Your agent is likely trying to adhere to your criteria but is not finding much to show you that matches your house hunting wish list. In that situation, agents show people what’s available. They are trying to make sales, and, although they want to please clients, they want most to move what housing inventory is on the market at the moment.

Use Your House Hunting Checklist to Ask Specific Questions

A house hunting wish list guides your discussions about a property that you might buy. Even without a checklist you need to ask questions like how old is the HVAC system or roof or what are the HOA fees.

Beyond these important factors, a checklist reminds you to ask specific questions. You should not assume that the information you get is entirely accurate.

For example, sellers and agents might say a house has hardwood floors when actually it has hardwood-looking floors. The floor could be laminate or vinyl that looks like wood planks but is not truly hardwood. This might be fine as far as you’re concerned or maybe it’s not.

If you want a home with a swimming pool, ask questions about the age of its filtration equipment and what type of cleaning system it uses, such as chlorine or salt. Pools on houses for sale could have aging equipment that is at the end of its lifespan. This means you’ll need to replace some expensive items to make the pool usable.

Lake access is another issue to dive into deeply before you commit to a purchase. Unless the home is waterfront, you need to get firm answers about your lake access. Sellers love to promote their lake access without divulging what that really means.

Although it should mean that your home comes with deeded access to a waterfront, it does not automatically mean that you can immediately dock a boat out there. Lake access communities usually have more houses in them than there are spaces for boats on a small piece of waterfront. Space is likely limited, and you would need to be on a waitlist before you can dock a boat.

How Do I Compromise With My Partner About What House to Buy?

Unless you are a solo homebuyer, you will have to make a buying decision with your partner. This will be much more difficult than deciding where to eat dinner.

A property that meets one person’s needs may not meet the other person’s needs. It can be hard to budge when you see a house that fulfills your needs, but your partner does not want it.

Realistically, a couple will have to find a house that has most of the features that each person needs.

Before getting deep into looking at houses, talk about your biggest needs. Work on this list and identify your areas of agreement. These will build a foundation that you can use to make compromises. No one should have to give up all needs to satisfy a partner’s needs.

It’s best to come to agreement on your shared priorities before looking at homes. It will be harder to settle arguments once someone falls in love with a particular property that doesn’t suit you at all.

You might each prepare separate wish lists and then compare them together. The list presents you with a way to argue that a house doesn’t meet enough of your needs to make the purchase.

In that case, you will need to continue house hunting until you find something that both of you can agree to.

How to Make a List of What You Want When Buying a House

To conclude, your house hunting wish list needs to clearly state your needs and then features that are nice to have. If possible, rank your needs to add more clarity so that you can choose the house that meets your most important needs.

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