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Home Buying Tips: Separating the “Must Haves” from the “Wants”

By Mike Wheatley | December 15, 2011

It’s almost the season to be jolly, and no doubt there are plenty of people who have been busy compiling their wish lists in time for Christmas.

home buying tips

What are the 'must haves' on your home wish list? © Szasz-Fabian Erika -

But for anyone looking to buy a home, their dreams of finding the perfect abode aren’t just restricted to a couple of chilly weeks at the end of the year. And from gourmet kitchens with state of the art appliances to backyard oases complete with swimming pools and patios, rarely are two wish lists quite the same.

Still, most people will appreciate that they’re unlikely to find a home that has every single thing they desire. Instead, we have to stick to the most important items on our wish lists – the “need to haves”, while remembering that the “nice to haves” are only secondary. What follows are a few tips to help you separate your needs from your desires.


First of all, we have to be realistic about exactly what we can afford. For many people, they’ll discover the reality that their budget is unlikely to allow for all of their “wants”, and so they’ll have to make a compromise. House hunters should use a local realtor with years of experience in the area they are searching in order to understand the local market better and determine what they can and can’t afford.


Location is vital. While you can change a home to be practically anything you want it to be (with enough time, money and investment), the one thing you can’t change is where it is. Think about your work and how far you’re going to have to travel each day. Consider schools as well if you have or are planning to have kids. Short commutes, distance to family and access to good transport links are “must haves” for many of us.

Bear in mind though, location will have an impact on what you can afford. If you really need to live in the city center for example, you can probably cross off that oasis garden from your wish list.


Decide what is non-negotiable with regards to living space. Everyone in the family should have their own comfortable space. A family with two children will likely decide that they need a minimum of three bedrooms, while for others a spare guest room might be considered essential.


Once the essentials have been fulfilled, the next step is to try and determine what features your home needs to suit your lifestyle. If you love cooking and having guests round for dinner parties, then a gourmet kitchen would be at the top of your wish list, but in order to have it you may have to do without the master bedroom. Similarly, if you have to have a big garden, then you might need to compromise on the indoor space in your home.


Some “must haves” are not as important as you might think. Okay, so you desire hardwood flooring, but really that’s something that you can do yourself. Buyers need to try and look past things like the flooring, the paint work or interior decorations that might not suit their taste. Getting out the paint brush and tackling a little DIY is a worth sacrifice if everything else about the home fits.

Mike Wheatley is the senior editor at Realty Biz News. Got a real estate related news article you wish to share, contact Mike at [email protected].
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