So you're ready to make a life change and move to your next home. There are tens of thousands of homes for sale on hundreds of internet sites. Where to begin? Get a pen and paper and write down your responses in each category.
1.Describe the basics of what the home must have for your life. How many bedrooms and bathrooms do you need? What kind of space do you need in the common areas? Do you need a guest bedroom? Do you need an office? How much garage space do you need? Is it important for you to have a private drive? Do you need a main floor bedroom? Do you prefer to cook on an electric or gas stove? Do you need a library? Do you need a room with east facing windows for your art studio? Does anyone in your family have special needs we need to consider? Do you need space for mother-in-law or returning college students?
2.Define the possible locations. How close or far do you want to be from work?
Do you want to live in a particular school district?
Are there friends or family you'd like to live close to?
3.Look at your lifestyle. Where do you go on your days off? What do you like to do? Do you like to be able to walk to the grocery store? Do you go out to eat often? Do you want a neighborhood bar within walking distance? Would you like to be near music venues? Do you want to be closer to Nieman Marcus or Target? Do you want to be on a bus route? Would you like a community swimming pool close by, one in your own back yard, or nothing to do with a swimming pool? How about tennis courts or a bike trail? Do you like to garden? Would you prefer a small yard that can be mowed in 10 minutes or as big of a yard as you can get?
4.Consider the ambiance of the neighborhoods you're considering. Do you want to be in a vibrant, lively neighborhood where people are always walking around and visitng or one that is quieter? Would you enjoy living in a historic house or neighborhood? Do you prefer new construction? Do you prefer a more urban, suburban, or country environment? Do you want your own stables or would you rather board your horses nearby? Do you or would you like to belong to a Country Club? Would you like a lake community? Would you like to live on a golf course? Do you know that more than half of the people who prefer living in golf course communities do not golf? They just like the landscaping around the golf course and the community of people who live on golf courses. (Some of them just like to ride around in the golf carts.)
5.What would you like your home to have but would not be absolutely essential in your selection? This can be anything. Some people will only live in a Tudor style house while others would absolutely never live in a Tudor. You may need a fenced in yard but that can be added to most any house so one with a fence would be preferable but not essential. Is a fireplace an absolute 'must have' or something that would be nice but not necessary?
6.Determine your preferred price range. Figure out how much you are willing and able to spend - all at once if paying cash - or on a monthly basis if using a mortgage to finance part of the purchase price. Make sure it is an amount with which you feel comfortable. This should really be your first step as you will not want to start out looking at pictures of million dollar homes on the internet and then try to satisfy your aspirations on a $400,000 budget.
Take some time to think about how you use your home in your daily life. When you sit down for your initial consultation with your real estate agent, tell them everything you can about what you want and need. Taking the time to do this at the beginning will save countless hours of frustration later.
Notice that the photo is of people, not a house. Why? Because your home is where you live a big part of your life. It's about the people in your life and the time you share together. Your home is like a stage set in the play that is your life; it's important but the people are more important.