It’s easy to talk in generalities about wanting a “big” house or an “older” home. But in order to better target your real estate search, you must think specifically about your dream dwelling. Will your “big” house be 2,400 square feet or 5,000? When you say “older” home, do you mean one built pre-1900, or pre-1980?
Understand that your requirements list will likely change as you learn more about your housing options. Proximity to the beach may start as a priority, for example, but once you see the size of ocean-front homes you can get in your price range, you may decide a short drive to the water is bearable. Unless you have an unlimited budget, it’s likely you’ll need to make compromises along the way.
Use the tips and questions below to help you pinpoint what you like and don’t like about your current home, so you can find more comfort and pleasure in your dream home.
Know your finances
Getting your finances in order before searching for your dream home can make all the difference in a competitive market. Determining your budget and how much financial wiggle room you have can help put your must-haves more clearly into view. Ask yourself:
- Are you pre-approved for a mortgage?
- What’s your price range?
- How much do you have saved for a down payment? What about future repairs?
- Are you willing to do extra renovations or do you want a turnkey property?
Consider your current lifestyle and plan for the future
Pick your preferred home style and type
Once you have the basics figured out, it can help lay the groundwork for determining what features you want in a house. Consider the different types of houses on the market in the neighborhoods where you want to buy, and remember you can use keywords when searching for homes on Zillow to help narrow down your options. Ask yourself these questions:
- How many stories do you want?
- Do you want to live in a townhouse, condo or single-family house?
- Could you live in a historic home?
- How many bedrooms?
- How many bathrooms?
- Want a guest room?
- What type of flooring do you like?
- What architectural styles do you like best?
- What’s your favorite room, and what makes spending time there enjoyable?
- If you have an outdoor space, do you enjoy spending time there?
- Do you enjoy taking care of a yard… or feel burdened by it (be honest!)?
Choose a location
You can change your paint colors to refresh the feel of your home, or add an extension to increase your square footage, but you can’t alter where your home is located. When finding your dream home, it’s easy to get caught up in its features, but you should also consider your surroundings:
- Do you prefer urban, suburban or rural?
- What city do you want to live in?
- Do you want easy access to highways or public transportation?
- How important is the view?
- Can you sleep easily with traffic noise?
- Do you want to be involved in community activities?
- Are there parks within walking or biking distance?
- Do the property taxes and/or HOA fees fit your budget?
Once you know what you’re looking for in a home, you’ll be ready to find the right agent to partner with for your search. Identifying your priorities will help you find the perfect property. Happy house hunting!