Homebuying is a significant undertaking and a big adventure. It is also an occasion to examine your life and look into the future. Are you a young couple just starting out and looking for your first home together? Are you nearing retirement, or planning for it, with kids long since having left the nest? Or, as sometimes happens these days, with kids who are reluctant to leave? The particulars of each person’s situation will differ, but one thing is certain: in every case their future will be what they determine.
This is the time to list and balance your wants against your needs. Where this line is drawn in the sand usually is determined by what you can pay for. If you are affluent and there is little chance of a downturn, then you can lean towards your wants. On the other hand, if you are just beginning a career, or your income source is subject to variation, consider focusing mainly on your needs.
When sellers are finding it hard to get interest in their homes, prices may be depressed and some buyers will get greedy looking to do the best they can. This may lead to trouble for the buyers as time goes by, if it leads to their buying more than they can really manage.
Consider some things that fall into the “needs” category. If you are a young couple just starting out, this is a good time to invest some time with your spouse and discuss how many children you would like to have. Children need a good stable home. You don’t want to be buying a bigger house too often because there is another baby on the way. Or maybe you expect to run a business out of home. If that is so, shop for a home that will allow an office, storage, or a processing area for whatever work is involved. If that is the case, you will have to check on zoning regulations for the operation.
Now let’s talk about things in the “wants” category. Consider your style of living. If you entertain a lot then you might want to focus on a house with a formal dining room and kitchen or a backyard patio and pool. If you don’t envision this playing a major role in your activities, then focus on alternative interests. A rec room? An area for doing work on cars? Facilities devoted exclusively to a hobby or interest are really a luxury, you have to admit. This may be tough to do, but you might have to pare down your list to meet a cost line.
As you can see, the division that separates wants and needs can vary widely between different people depending on their income, future plans, and how much maintenance they are willing to do. This is a good time to sit down and firmly decide what you need to live a happy and healthy lifestyle, and what you “would like to have” — the want list — that comes below the essentials in priority. Once you get these ideas firmly set, you’re ready to go!