House-Hunting Must-Haves Checklist
Let’s play a game. Imagine you have ten beans or coins (or whatever… M&Ms if that’s your preference). You have to “spend” them wisely to get the house you want and need. How many are you going to give up for size? Backyard? Mudroom? The number of bedrooms? The number of baths? Remember, you only get 10.This little exercise forces you to think about priorities and making essential distinctions between must-haves and would-be-nice-to-haves. What is non-negotiable, and what is up for compromise? Use our helpful house hunting checklist of wants and needs as you embark on your real estate journey.
House Hunting Must-Have List
Here’s the reality: no two house hunters will have the same checklist. A family of four might require three bedrooms. That’s a dealbreaker for them. They won’t do three, no way, no how. Another family of four might be open to having the kids bunk up together. They would like three, but they could live happily with two. Another family of four might stand firm on having five bedrooms: one for guests and one for a home office. That’s their line in the sand.
Rather than presenting a generic, one-size-fits-all house hunting checklist of wants or needs, we’re going to show you how to make your own, completely tailored to your lifestyle, comfort level, and, yes, budget.
It’s up to you to decide on your house hunting must-have list - as well as your would-like-to-haves and your I-don’t-really-care lists. Without further ado:
- What Do You Refuse to Compromise On?
- What Can You Give Up to Get What You Need/Want?
- What Areas Don’t Matter Much to You?
Some key questions to ask:
- How many bedrooms do I need (not want, need)? Think of your current life circumstances and how your project will change. For example, as a young professional, you may be content with a one- or two-bedroom, but if you plan to have a family, take in roomies, or move in with your parents, you will need more space. So think about the long-term as well.
- How many bathrooms do I need? One? Two? It’s your house, you decide. But remember, you only have 15 beans! Use them wisely.
- Do you need a backyard? If you love gardening and other forms of green therapy and/or have children who need a safe play area, a backyard can be a dealbreaker.
- One story vs. two or three? Again, think in the longer term. Do you or any of your household members have any mobility issues? Do you plan to age in place?
- Layout. Do you love open plans, or do you want cozy rooms that offer privacy? Again, it’s up to you. This is an area that you may want to leave open as you explore different possibilities. Sometimes a house will call to you even if you don’t expect it based on the specs!
- What is the age and condition of the home? Older homes can have a great deal of character - but they also often come with more extensive maintenance and/or renovation needs. Are you a DIYer or willing to hone these skills? Do you have the funds to hire pros to get it into shape? Would you rather buy a newer or newly built home?
- What’s the kitchen situation? If you enjoy sitting down to an excellent take-out meal, your kitchen’s size, counter space, etc., may not matter much. But if you like cooking and entertaining, you likely want a larger space outfitted to suit your needs.
- Do you need a basement? What about a garage? Some people are just fine without either. But you may need a finished basement that can house the washer and dryer, do double duty as a storage area and home gym, etc. You may need a garage for your vehicle or to set up a workshop. Figure out what you cannot live without and what you can give up comfortably.
- Think about the neighborhood. Is it essential that you live near work? Schools? Parks? Restaurants, theaters, museums, and galleries? How about services, like healthcare centers? Some people need to be in the mix, living in a vibrant, bustling area. Others prefer to take a step back, giving up a two-minute walk to the grocery store for a more rural experience. Again, it’s your choice.
You’re not a one-size-fits-all person/family, and we’re not going to give you a generic house-hunting must-have list. It depends on a variety of factors, not the least of which is your budget, lifestyle, household makeup, and future plans.