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Buying a House: What You Want vs. What You Need

Dec 19 2019

What do you need in a home, and what can you live without?

For a first-time homebuyer, keeping these questions in mind is key. Let’s say you fell in love with a home that’s nothing like what you planned, and now you’re stuck with a massive fixer-upper when all you really needed was two bedrooms and an updated kitchen.

Keeping this checklist handy will help you stay on target while home shopping, even when you’re dazzled by something impractical. It can assist with other tricky aspects of the process too, like matching your desires with a partner’s, sticking to your budget, and acting fast when you find the right match.

What should I ask myself when looking for a home?

These questions can help you decide what’s really important.

  • How many bedrooms and bathrooms do I need?
  • What do I like and dislike about the space I currently live in? 
  • How long do I plan to live in my new home? (Your needs may be different if you want a starter-home before moving to a bigger place or if you’re in it for the long haul.)
  • Am I willing to renovate?

What are my top priorities while buying a home?

A helpful way to organize your list (and knock some things off) is by categorizing each item under “Needs,” “Wants,” and “Irrelevant.” 

Needs are non-negotiable. They’re the deal-breakers. Maybe you need at least two bathrooms (one just for you, of course). Or perhaps someone in your household, like the old family dog, cannot climb stairs.

Wants, however, are more flexible. You want space downstairs for your activities, but an unfinished basement with potential may do for now.

Irrelevant things, meanwhile, can be anything from a driveway if you don’t own a car to an open layout inside the house.

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