Sorting Needs vs. Wants When Buying a Home

Posted by Shawn Clayton on Friday, April 7th, 2017 at 10:12am.

Home Wish List When thinking of buying a home in Bay Head or surrounding areas, most people probably have a long list of wants for that house. The reality, however, is that it can be unrealistic to look for a home with literally everything on the wish list.

Even if a buyer can afford every desired feature, such as oceanfront, luxury, with a pool, etc..., the simple fact is it’s rare to find a home that fits that long list of requirements. As such, buyers should prioritize expectations, isolating a handful of needs from a much larger collection of wants.

Identifying Wants

The categorization process can be painful. Consider these approaches if you're having trouble:

  • Require justification for it: Having four members in the household is certainly a good reason to need a three bedroom home. Wanting a fireplace because they're cozy and romantic is not a good enough reason to call it a need.
  • Consider if it fits your budget: It is unlikely to find a low-cost home with a swimming pool. Be realistic about what is affordable. Since every market is different, it would behoove buyers to research local listings to see how far their money is likely to go.
  • Consider what can be changed easily: You can easily update decor, paint, light fixtures and the like yourself, so don't let such requirements choke up your need list. Replacing cabinets, installing granite counter-tops and such are bigger projects but are still ones that can still be done after purchase. Putting something on the want list isn't an admission of defeat. It's simply making it less of an immediate priority.

Identifying Needs

Weed out the wants, and what's left will (hopefully) be legitimate needs. These things frequently include:

  • School districts
  • Distance from work
  • Walkability
  • Number of bedrooms
  • Number of bathrooms
  • Square footage
  • Newer (or in good condition) foundation/roof

There's also things that are wants for some people but needs for others. A first floor laundry is convenient for most, but it's a need for people who have difficulty navigating stairs, particularly with a basket full of laundry.

Deal Breakers

Don't forget to consider things you absolutely do not want or cannot live with. You may not insist on a newer roof but still really not want an old one, due to the likely maintenance costs and increased danger of water damage. You may not care if there's a backyard fence, just so long as it isn't chain link. Some people would love to have a hot tub, but if you have safety concerns, (or you're just sure you'll never use it) it's perfectly reasonable to insist a house not have one.

Armed with a list of needs, wants, and want-nots, buyers can start meaningfully sorting through possible homes. Start with those which fit the budget and fill absolute needs, then refine according to level of wants, filtering out anything having a deal-breaking feature.

Buying a home is a huge undertaking, and, without organization, you may find yourself overwhelmed by the process. Keep control by creating an honest list of needs and wants. Many desired features can be added at a later date, and you have to be honest how many bells and whistles that can be reasonably affordable at purchase. Keep your sights on what is most important, and you'll find the home buying process go a lot smoother and with fewer frustrations.

Shawn Clayton, Owner/Broker, REALTORĀ®

Jersey Shores Luxury Home Expert
732-295-2222

Contact Shawn

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