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

May 19 2021

In a world packed with Insta-influencers and total home makeover TV shows, it’s no wonder that you may feel some FOMO for not having a 1,000-square-foot walk-in closet. 

Or maybe you feel ready to buy a fixer-upper … and remodel it all by yourself. YOLO, right?  

So, when buying a home, how do you distinguish your wants from your needs? 

Use this checklist to arm yourself with the right questions. It can help with things like staying on budget, matching your desires with your partner’s, or jumping quickly when the right home comes along.   

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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