Shopping for a home is an exciting adventure and it's easy to get lost in a sea of dazzling for-sale homes and all of their fabulous amenities - which can cause you to temporarily forget that a large backyard is your top priority. To keep yourself focused, take time to identify and organize exactly what you're looking for in a home by creating thorough "must-have" and "wish" lists before you begin home shopping. You may also want to make a third list that details your dislikes.
To get started ask yourself these questions: Which items and features must your home have? Which items and features would you like to have, but could live without? What would your dream house include? And, what features or issue must you avoid?
For the must-have list, try to focus on essentials and hard-to-change details, like a home's layout. If you must have a three-bedroom, two-bath house, put it on the list. Ranking your must-haves in order of importance is also a good idea.
Hard-to-change, must-have features can include the type of house, for example a two-story colonial or sprawling rancher; the number of rooms and square footage; the home's proximity to shopping; or its overall condition. Your must-have list can't be too detailed because it aims to itemize the features that are most important to you and your family.
Your wish list is the flexible and fun list. Wish lists are good for cosmetic features that would be great to have, but that can be changed. Hardwood floors can replace old wall-to-wall carpeting. If the yard is large enough and has adequate open space, a pool can be installed later. And landscaping can be a work in progress. Since the wish list is secondary, there are no limits so be sure to also include your dream amenities.
While compiling your lists, don't hesitate to confer with your real estate professional, who is a great source for information about neighborhoods, homes and other pertinent "must-have" information.
Once you've determined your must-haves and optional features, create a checklist to take with you during your home tours. Besides helping you stay focused, it will provide an organized review of each house.
Your lists will most likely change as you tour homes and see what the market really has to offer. It's also unlikely that one house will include all of your must-have features. But, your efforts will be well worth it once you find the perfect house that includes just enough must-haves and even a few wishes. Your perfect home might not include that must-have basement, but its view may be a dream come true.