This year I’ve helped more buyers than I typically do to find “forever” homes. By that I mean buyers who are buying homes in the Iowa City area that they intend to stay in for a long time, rather than doing the 3 or 4 year rotation that many buyers relocating to Iowa City for the University of Iowa or UI Hospitals do. Often these buyers have more specific requirements, but at the same time, because the home buying process is complex and gives them so much to think about, they really have a hard time pinpointing exactly they are looking for in their new home.
How do you go about figuring out what is important in your new home?
This is where a Want’s, Needs and Wishes List comes into play. There are many reasons you might need one… If you’ve been living in the same house for 30 years and are now looking for somewhere to spend your “golden years,” you may not know where to start. The house that you’ve lived in for the last 30 years still suits you just fine. There are some things that are a little inconvenient, like the large amount of yard work, or the lack of an extra bathroom when the family comes to visit, but you’ve lived with those little inconveniences for 30 years. How can you miss something you’ve never had? How do you know what you need in a new home?
The same thing applies to the young first time home buyers who have been renting for years and are now in the market to buy their first home. They managed just fine in a small apartment, even with a growing family. How do they know what they need in a house? After living quite comfortably with the little inconveniences for many years it’s hard to come up with a list of requirements that are genuinely important about a new home.
Your Wants, Needs & Wishes List will give you something to refer to and probably save you time as you can eliminate houses that won’t work quicker. As exciting as house hunting might seem on the surface, it’s less exciting after you’ve looked at 10 houses and none of them came even remotely close to the home you have in your head that you want to move into! Knowing what you want will help you bypass some of that and make the whole home buying process smoother and more efficient.
What do you put on your Wants, Needs & Wishes List?
The wants, needs and wishes list should contain the requirements of your new home in order of priority. You’ll likely need to compromise on some of the items on the list, some will be deal breakers, others less important. It’s good to have a plan up front on what is negotiable and what’s not. We have a hot market in the Iowa City area. If you’re looking at a hot property you probably won’t have much thinking time before making an offer. Knowing what you are willing to compromise on and what not, will mean you can feel comfortable writing an offer on a house or condo you know has enough of the requirements on the list to give it the green light.
1. Location is a key motivator for home buyers. Where do you want to live?
To answer this question it’s not just a case of looking at neighborhoods, it’s much more about figuring out whether a particular neighborhood will work with your lifestyle. Even though this is question #1, you might want to come back to it after you’ve looked at question #2.
2. How close do you need to be to the following:
b) Bus Service
f) Parks, Dog Park
g) Fitness Center and other amenities
3. What style of home are you interested in? (2 parts to this question)
b) Single Family Home, Condominium, Zero Lot?
a) Two Story, Ranch, Split Level, Multi-Level?
4. What age of home will you consider? Newer or New Construction or Old, Turn of the Century Homes? (Or something in between).
5. How Many Bedrooms, Bathrooms do you need? Home Office?
6. Are you willing to fix up a home that hasn’t been updated in a while, or do you want that all to be done and move in ready?
7. Which of the options below are the “must have” amenities you need in a home and which are negotiable?
a) Yard, (Size / Fenced / Hobby Gardener)
b) Garage (1 or 2+ Car Garage)
c) Patio, Deck, Screened in Porch
d) Laundry room, (Maybe you need it on the main level)
e) Family Room
g) Air Conditioning
h) Hardwood Floors
i) Privacy, View
j) Windows (Are large windows offering lots of light home important to you?)
This list of questions gives you somewhere to start. (I will be converting this list to PDF when I have a little time and will provide a link to that in this post, so check back for that). Once you do get started I’m sure you’ll come up with lots of other ideas you’d like in a home. A current trend that is close to my heart is towards energy efficiency in a home. If that’s important to you, then on the list it should go. Like I said, you may not get everything you want in a home, but the compromising comes later.
Of course there is one thing left that needs to be said before I finish this post. The list helps, but even more important when it comes to finding the right home is to find yourself a good buyer’s agent to help you with your home search. We do this 24/7, not quite 365 days a year, but often times we come close. This post however isn’t about buyer agency, I have other posts for that. In a nutshell though, a buyer’s agent will help you sort through the complexities of the home buying process and do everything they can to find you the right home – What they won’t do is try to sell you a house. There is a big difference between the two and you’ll know you’re working with the right buyer’s agent when you’ve established that fact.
Looking to buy or a home in the Iowa City area? Buying a home is probably the biggest financial transaction you will ever be involved in. Work with a broker who is committed to putting in the time and effort needed to help you get exactly what you want out of your real estate transaction and is great with all those pesky details. Call Denise at 319-400-0268 for personal representation buying your next home in or around Iowa City.
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