YOUR HOME-BUYING WISH LIST: What are you craving in your new home?
When I was pregnant with my girls (please bear with me, this is not a post about pregnancy, I promise) I craved milk. Lots of it. I drank half a gallon - at least - every day. As a matter of fact I frequently woke up in the middle of the night because I needed to drink a glass of milk. I just had to and as it goes with cravings I wasn't satisfied until I had some. On the other end of the spectrum I could not stand eggs. Everything about them bothered me, the sight, the smell, the taste. There were no eggs in my fridge for a good 10 months, both times.
Where am I going with this? It's simple really. Some cravings are temporary. Cravings change. When it comes to buying a house we all have a wish-list and a good understanding about our wants and needs (at least we should). The key - besides a realistic budget - is to understand what are truly must haves, just would-be-nice and which ones of these could be just temporary cravings and not necessarily realistic wishes for the long haul!?
You may be longing for this big back yard but if you are working 60 hours a week who will be taking care of it? You may really be craving for the tranquility and serenity of the country but if you work downtown how much are you going to love your commute? Or how about that big 5 bedroom house even though you really only need 2? Will your craving change once you realize how much more cleaning there is to do and how much it costs to heat and cool all those extra rooms you are rarely or never using?
On the other hand you may be craving just your very own place. Finally, to be the king or queen of your castle, any small place would do and all you really need is a 1 bedroom condo. But what if you discover that living alone is really not your thing and you would really enjoy a roommate? How about your parents? Are they elderly and a multi-generational household may be in your future?
Buying a home is a huge decision - that is no secret. What you may not be thinking about though is what your life may look like in the next few years. But you should - circumstances change, cravings are temporary. If you are on your own right now consider that you may want a home to grow into. If you have kids think about how soon they'll be leaving the nest. If you love the 'burbs or country think about your commute and proximity to shopping & restaurants and if you love the city think about how much that lifestyle will still fit when you start a family.
Sure, you can always trade up or scale down and it's something most of us are facing sooner or later. However, with a slow and steady Real Estate appreciation (which is hopefully the path will be taking) it will take awhile to have enough equity to cover closing costs.
So, when you are embarking on your home-buying journey take a close look at your wish-list and your needs and wants and identify the cravings - those may be short-lived or at odds with your needs and lifestyle.