Make a Shopping List
Deciding on a price range is a good start for any home search, but evaluating your wants and needs in advance is the key to a shorter and more productive search. A realistic idea of which features you absolutely must have and ones you can live without will help you to compare homes and choose the one best suited to your family.
Make a three-part list ("The List")
- one part for features you can't live without - the essentials
- one for useful extras - the could haves
- one for luxuries - the wants
Essentials should include the number of bedrooms and bathrooms, the size of rooms and the yard, etc..
Plan for the future when you are making your list. Children need more room as they grow but, at some point, they will leave the nest and can leave you with more room than you need. Balance the age of your family with the amount of time you expect to live in your next home.
Have everyone in your family fill out a copy of "The List" and then combine everyone's needs and wants into a master list that represents your ideal family home. This will help you practice the art of compromise - essential in any hunt for a home. For instance, you may think a deck is a must, while your spouse and family think it is a frill. Your spouse feels a fireplace is essential and you think it is an extra. Which takes priority? It helps to work things out beforehand.
Once you have developed your master copy of "The List", use it to rate the homes you look at. It will help you compare one house against another and can be helpful in refreshing your memory at a later date.
It can also help you keep your perspective. A flashy fireplace or lighting fixture - extras - in a particular house may give that home added appeal until your list reminds you it lacks the second bathroom you can't do without - an essential. Don't be tempted to change extras to essentials as you shop.
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