Home-Buying Checklist: Your Needs and Wants

Identify your priorities when buying a home by making a checklist of your needs and wants.

Looking for a new home can often seem overwhelming, but we can help sort the details.

There are so many things to consider when buying a home that you can quickly get caught up in a million tiny details and lose track of what’s most important.

Remember key differences between wants and needs.

As with many situations in life, it’s important to separate your needs and your wants when looking for a home. Sure, it would be wonderful to find an amazing home that checks all of the boxes in both categories, but that is unrealistic. Even if you fall head over heels in love with a certain property, there will likely be at least a few things (even if they are minor) that you would change about the place if you could wave a magic wand and make it happen.

To help focus your search, it may be helpful to actually create a chart where you list your main Needs and Wants. By contrasting the two categories, you can identify the top priorities so you know where you can make compromises—and what items are non-negotiable.

Ideally, the perfect home for you would meet most or all of your Needs, along with many of your Wants. It’s even better if the items the property lacks are things that would be relatively easy to change or add.

Some of the basic features you will want to contemplate when evaluating homes:

  • Location:

Everyone knows the old adage when it comes to real estate—it’s all about “location, location, location.” But there is no one perfect location that will be great for everyone. This is an individual decision. You may want a certain location because it is in your desired school district, or because it is close to your workplace. If you absolutely must focus on (or avoid) specific areas for important reasons, this would fall under your “needs” list. Finding the perfect neighborhood isn’t easy, but worth it!

  • Size:

At the very least, you probably have an idea of how many bedrooms you will need to accommodate all of your household members. The bare minimum—both in total square footage and number of bedrooms or other spaces—your family would need in order to live comfortably would be your “needs.” Extras that would be nice to have to provide additional entertaining space or potential for expansion later would likely be considered “wants.” Don’t forget: the larger the home, the more expensive it will likely be to maintain.

  • Safety concerns:

You may decide that living near a busy street is too risky with young children in the household. Family members with mobility issues or physical challenge might make a first-floor bedroom a must. Anything related to safety usually falls under the “needs” category.

  • Condition:

You cannot change the location of a home, and even adjusting the size may be difficult or nearly impossible, depending on the layout of the home and the limitations of the property. But