House Hunting: How to Create a Home Buying Wants and Needs Checklist

When you have a house that doesn’t quite fit your needs as an individual or a family anymore, it’s time to start drafting a home buying wants and needs checklist so that you’ll be ready to intentionally purchase your next property. For those who want to buy another primary residence, this checklist should include everything you’d need for your new house to be the perfect place for you and your family to live. It should also include the things that would be nice to have but ultimately unnecessary if they weren’t included in a property that is otherwise your dream home.

For folks who are getting ready to purchase a second property like a rental or vacation home, it can be helpful to separate the things you’d like to have in your property and the things you wouldn’t be able to live without, as well. When you have a home buying wants and needs checklist, you’ll be able to objectively evaluate whether a property might be a good fit for you or whether you can pass on the property in search of one that meets all of the criteria you’ve listed on your checklist.

Housing Wants vs. Housing Need

Usually, you can tell if something is a want in housing if its absence doesn’t make it impossible to purchase the property or live there. For example, you may want to have a spiral staircase in your dream home, but you would ultimately be able to occupy a space that doesn’t have a spiral staircase. Of course, only you can decide what counts as a want or a need, so if that spiral staircase makes or breaks your willingness to buy a house, it may be a need more than a want in your situation.

Likewise, a need is something that is required to purchase a house and live there. If you have mobility issues, you may need a house that is accessible and allows you to live primarily on the first floor. For those who have many family members living under one roof, having a certain amount of room for privacy and comfort may be more of a need than a want. If something feels like a dealbreaker, it’s probably a need that you should include on that portion of your checklist.

Do You Need Everything on Your Housing Checklist?

Once you start concocting your home buying wants and needs checklist, it may feel like everything on the list is necessary. After all, if it was important enough to put on the checklist, it probably feels important enough to your vision for a dream home that you might not be able to bear the idea of living without it. When you take a step back from intense emotions surrounding the home-buying process, though, you’ll probably find that many of the things you’d like to have in your future home are not non-negotiable.

Some needs like staying within budget or having enough square footage to safely house your family will probably be dealbreakers on a house. For example, if you find a house that’s in the perfect location that is only a small studio loft when you need at least three bedrooms to live comfortably with your family, you can move on from that house in search of one that better suits your needs. Additionally, you should think about the location of your future home. If you find your dream house 1,000 miles away from where you work, live, and enjoy your hobbies, you probably won’t want to move there unless all of the other factors of your life are flexible.

If you’re house hunting with other people like a spouse, partner, or family member, you may find that a checklist helps you avoid conflict in places where it would be easy to start a fight without a list in hand. When you create a checklist of what you want and need, you can have tough conversations like how much money you’re willing to spend every month on a mortgage and whether it matters if a house has amenities like a pool already installed in the yard. The more of these conversations you have upfront, the fewer potential fights you’ll have about not being on the same page with the other person or people who are looking at houses with you.

Fill Your Home with Ideal Furniture

Before you try to buy a house, you should consider what home furnishings will need to go into the property. While you may be able to fit most types of furniture into a large home, you may find that smaller homes will force you to downsize your collection of furniture to fit them into the home. Some houses may have odd angles or pillars that cut into the places where you would typically fit furniture, so you should think about whether having an open-concept house would be important to you or if that’s not something you need to include on your checklist.

After you buy a house, you can make a list of the wants and needs you have for the contents of the home. If you’re furniture shopping with a partner, it can be helpful to create a vision board or another visual tool to showcase what your dream aesthetic would be for the home. If you love the look of sleek, modern furniture with an elegant color palette but your partner prefers a rustic look with warm tones, you will have to negotiate.

Follow the Law

At the top of your home buying wants and needs checklist, you’ll want to put the process of making sure you hire all of the local and federal laws around buying a home. If a property seems too good to be true or it seems like it may violate local codes related to housing, you should consult with a real estate attorney or a legal professional who understands real estate law. As you’re buying a home, you’ll need someone to help you review contracts for buying the home and make the terms more favorable for your interests if they aren’t already so. For this reason, having a real estate lawyer can be more of a need than a want.

If you have a strong handle on real estate laws because of your professional background and training, you may find that getting another professional involved could be considered more of a “want” than a “need.” Still, even if you don’t have professional legal counsel, you’ll be held responsible by the appropriate authorities for following all of the laws related to housing codes, real estate, and land ownership. This is a non-negotiable no matter what else is on your list for buying a new house.

Start from Scratch

For some people, the ultimate dream in life is to build their own home from the ground up. Building something that is expected to last potentially for generations can be an extremely challenging process, though. There are a lot of moving pieces that go into building a home that need to be followed to the letter or else a serious accident could occur. If you’re building a home yourself, your home buying wants and needs checklist should include hiring the appropriate contractors for the job.

To prevent injuring yourself or ruining your future property, the first step you put on your checklist should be hiring a professional home builder to aid you in your dream. Not everyone is an architect who knows how to navigate the delicate process of constructing a house. Let them handle all the issues while you tell them exactly how to create your dream home.

When you find a home that has good “bones” but is a fixer-upper, you should think about whether it would be beneficial to demolish the original property and start over. You can include items related to your wants and needs for land on your list so you’d be ready to demolish the house on the land if the land seems right for you. Some folks may consider the need for significant repairs to be a dealbreaker, so you should only buy a house that has a lot of repair needs and concerns if you have a home buying wants and needs checklist that allows for repairs.

Call the Movers

When your new house is ready to go, you should probably have all your belongings with you to make the transition smoother. After all, not everyone is willing to sleep on the floor for the first few nights. Moving can be the final extremely stressful part of a transition to a new home, but that doesn’t mean it has to be. Consider contacting your local moving service to get some help. The van will be especially useful for safely transporting furniture and the movers will save you a potential injury by helping get all of the heavy stuff into your new home.

Renovate and Remodel

A home buying wants and needs checklist should include renovations you’re open to performing. Putting on a new addition or completely reimagining a room for a different purpose can be the thing that makes a home even better. If you wish to do this, though, it would be wise to hire a remodeling contractor. Their job is to ensure that anyone looking to make major changes to their homes gets exactly what they are looking for.

A Fresh Coat of Paint

Nothing brightens up a house quite like a fresh coat of paint. Whether it’s a brand new house that is just begging to be decorated for the first time or an older house that could use some TLC, giving the walls a brand new shade of color is just the trick to make a house a home.

Head down to your local home improvement store and pick up some paint chips to see what looks best in your home. Paint can be expensive so it’s best not to waste a drop if you aren’t sure you’ll like the color. If you don’t feel comfortable painting your walls yourself, consider hiring a home painter to do it for you and potentially save yourself from a very messy accident.

From the Bottom to the Top

When you’re making a home buying wants and needs checklist, you’ll need to think about every aspect of the home from the foundation to the roof. You should think about whether you’d be willing to schedule a basement remodeling in the future if the basement of the house doesn’t look the way you would like. You should also think about whether you need specific types of rooms like a sun room in your new home to make it worth buying.

Consider Negotiable Repair Needs

Some types of repairs may not be dealbreakers. Others may cause you to not want to buy a property. Before you make a home buying wants and needs checklist, make a list of contacts for home repairs. If you can’t find them online, call home repair companies to see if they could help you make a certain type of repair.

Choose the Right Floors

For many homeowners, their choice of flooring dictates how they’ll live in their home. A house with hardwood floors may be beautiful but pricey to maintain. Carpeting can be plush but difficult to clean at times. Put the right type of floors on your home buying wants and needs checklist.

When you’re buying a home with a partner, family member, or housemate, it can be important to get on the same page about what qualifies as a want or a need. Sometimes, the things we want can feel necessary. At other times, we may downplay our needs because we feel like they may be too much of an ask for our real estate agent in the current housing market. To succeed in buying a home that everyone in your family loves, make a checklist first.

In short, you don’t necessarily need everything on your checklist for house hunting. Still, the closer your property is to the checklist’s description, the more likely you’ll want to stay in that house for the long haul. You may find it hard to live somewhere that deviates too far from the vision you had in your mind of where you would like to live.

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