You can find our House Hunting series on YouTube!
Maybe you need a guest room, an open concept kitchen to entertain, or a huge master closet. Maybe you want a fenced-in yard for your pup, a garage for your tools, or a neighborhood with a view. There are all kinds of things to consider when looking to purchase a home.
Because we purchased our home in a very competitive/low inventory market, Lucas and I wanted to be ready to strike by listing out our needs/wants checklist. If a home met the criteria we had preset, then it was the greenlight to put in an offer. If it didn’t meet some of the criteria we were looking for, we were ready to continue looking.
That said, our House Hunting Checklist may differ from what your “needs” and “wants” in a home, so we’re sharing our step-by-step guide to help you find your dream home!
If you haven’t checked out my latest blog posts sharing about our home-buying journey in New England, I’ll have the links listed below. This entry is Part 3: Our House Hunting Checklist: How to Find Your Dream Home, stay tuned for:
Part 1: We’re Homeowners
Part 2: How to Find the Perfect Realtor
Part 3: Our House Hunting Checklist: How to Find Your Dream Home
Part 4: Submitting Our First Offer On a House!
Part 5: Offer Accepted! Now We Wait...
Step #1: Connect With the Right Team
Before we dive into how many bedrooms and bathrooms you need, first things first on the House Hunting Checklist… Find the right team to help you along, which includes 1) Connect with a lender to get preapproved and 2) Connect with a realtor to help you get started.
Take the time to interview realtors, and you may even shop around for a good interest rate with the right lender. Whomever you decide to move forward with, make sure you communicate your goals and allow them to help set expectations as well. Once the foundation is set, you’re ready to start looking at houses!
Step #2: Determine Your Deal-Breakers
Was our dream home even out there during a low inventory market? This was the question we repeatedly asked ourselves as we began to comb through house listings. We knew going into the homebuying process that a house meeting ALL of our criteria may not exist in today’s market, so knowing the difference between our “wants” and “needs” was absolutely critical in determining our House Hunting Checklist.
Your “Needs” will be your absolute “must-haves” or even “deal-breakers,” while your “Wants” are more like “It would be nice if…”
For example, on our checklist, we “needed” 2 bedrooms minimum. 1 bedroom would be ours and the other can either act as my home office or guest room. With that said, we also “wanted” 3 bedrooms if possible, so that way we don’t have to dismantle my home office every time we have guests.
Another “need” for us was space surrounding the home. We hoped to have neighbors nearby, but not neighbors close enough to high-five outside the window. A “want” for us was a fenced-in backyard. We didn’t mind putting up a fence ourselves if the house didn’t have one already, but it would be nice if it was already existing!
The last “need” that I’ll share from our personal checklist is a less than 30-minute commute time for Lucas to get to work Monday-Friday. Because I’ll be working from home, I didn’t have any preference on which neighborhood to live in based on commute. But that said, we “wanted” a suburban neighborhood (away from the city) and nearby grocery stores.
Step #3: Attend Open Houses
Once you have a good idea on what you “need” and “want,” we HIGHLY recommend attending a handful of open houses. Not just one or two… but a handful. Lucas and I thought we had an idea on what we wanted and needed, until we went to some open houses. (You’ll likely make some adjustments to your House Hunting Checklist as you attend different open houses, but it’s good to start with a foundation!)
How Does the House Feel?
Selecting a preferred neighborhood, square footage range, or number of rooms
“on paper” is one thing, but getting a feel for a house layout in-person is a whole other experience. Start by asking yourself the obvious questions like, “do you like the appearance of the home?” If not, “are you okay with making the cosmetic updates?”
Does this Layout Fit Our Lifestyle?
But also ask yourself questions like, “Is this enough storage space for our lifestyle?” Like I mentioned in my last blog post, the first open house we attended barely had any storage space, and the military lifestyle doesn’t really allow us to be minimalists even if we wanted to.
How’s the Neighborhood?
Also take in the surroundings, “Can you picture yourself going for a run in the neighborhood? Why or why not?” or “How much light does each room get?” Pictures are great, but open houses can really reveal “needs and wants” that you have for a home, that maybe you didn’t even consider until attending an open house.
Step #4: Be Ready to Strike
It’s so important to have a list of “needs and wants” ready prior to an open house, especially in today’s competitive housing market. Potential homebuyers are submitting offers within 24-48 hours of open houses, so you want to make sure you come prepared with intentional thoughts and thorough questions for the selling agent, so that way, you can be fully ready to strike.
Step #5: Sleep On It
Although preparation and being ready to strike when the right house comes along is important, I highly recommend still trying your best to not become too overly excited. It’s really easy to be excited over the first house you see… but make sure to thoroughly think each house over, or maybe even “sleep on it” before deciding to make an offer and putting down your earnest money.
It’s really easy to get stuck on the thought of, “Is our dream home even out there during a low inventory market?” But please know that even in a low inventory housing market, there will always be more houses. You just may have to alter your idea on “dream home” and really evaluate the differences between your “needs” and “wants.” Also, as long as you’re not in a drastic hurry to move into a home, take the time you need to weigh out your options.
And for now, that’s a wrap! These are the 5 steps we “checked-off” as we searched for our first home in New England! I could’ve listed all of our “needs and wants” in this blog post, but since every homebuyer has different preferences, we hope that sharing these steps was much more helpful as you find your dream home!
Have you determined your “needs” from your “wants”? Let me know!
‘Til Part 4,
Storytelling by Gen
Travel diaries from explorations and adventures.