Homebuyers who end up most satisfied with their purchase are also those who know how to prioritize their needs. They use a secret weapon every house hunter should have on hand: a list of needs vs. wants.
Why You Should Prioritize Needs VS. Wants
Being clear on your needs is the most important thing you can do when you start shopping for a house (other than getting pre-approved).
You want to avoid problems and hassles when you buy a home.
Here are some icky things that are less likely to happen when you shop with needs and wants properly prioritized:
- Fights with your spouse or partner
- Bad investments
- Missing out on a great home
- Bad neighborhoods/neighbors
- Daily discomfort
- Buying a money pit
- Overspending on your house
What's the Difference Between a Need and a Want?
Needs are essential to your wellbeing or safety and worth every penny. If not having something will hurt your quality of life, it's probably a need.
It might be easy to say, "But I need a gourmet kitchen in my next home." If you're a famous chef, you might "need" a top of the line kitchen with all the bells and whistles.
If you eat takeout most nights, that fancy kitchen is probably a "want."
Needs Are Non-Negotiable.
...bad knees? You might list a single-story floor plan as a need.
...don't drive? A grocery store within walking distance might be a need.
...have seven children you stay at home with all summer? You might need a pool to keep them entertained and maintain your sanity.
Sit down and look at the listings on Realtor.com, then list all the description details of the houses you like.
Even if you don't think you'll run into a house with a pool during your hunt, list it anyway. This way you won't miss something important because you forgot you needed it.
Next Step? Prioritize Your Needs.
Look at your list and decide which 3-5 aspects of your future home are most important to you.
Those go on your needs list.
Here are some common needs-list items:
- Neighborhood (good neighborhood, favorite neighborhood)
- Number of bathrooms
- Number of bedrooms
- 1 or 2 story
- Central heat
- Air conditioning
- Attached garage
- Access to high speed internet
- Good school district
Once you have your needs items identified, number them in order of importance, so you have a definite pecking order.
Next stop? List your wants.
With your list of needs prioritized, you can begin listing your wants.
Write down items that would be nice to have, such as a pool or a half-bath downstairs for guests.
For this list, go crazy!
It's fine to have as many 'want' items as you can think of, as long as you keep in mind the reality of your situation. If your budget is on the small side, the home you end up with probably won't have all your wants.
Common items on a "wants" list often include:
- Specific countertop material
- Fixture colors
- Closet styles
- Flooring type
- Fenced yard
- Gas stove vs. electric
Prioritize your "wants" list as you did for your "needs" list. If you find multiple houses in your budget that fit your needs list, you'll have a prioritized wants list to help you choose the winner.
Not sure where to start? We help our clients prioritize their needs for home shopping all the time. It's the best way to ensure a smart investment, and feel great about your purchase.