Home Buyers: Determine your Non-negotiables

It’s easy to get caught up in daydreams as you browse through beautiful homes online. Suddenly, your want list grows exponentially. Before you get carried away, take the time to make a non-negotiable list. If you are buying a property with a partner, this is especially important, because you want to make sure the same things are important to both of you.

Determining the difference between what you want and what is non-negotiable will help you eliminate homes that are not a good fit – before you even look at them. Plus, it will be easier to walk away from charming houses when you know it would not be functional for your life.

Begin with the most significant factors. These can’t be altered after you buy a home, so it is important to weigh these factors heavily in your non-negotiable list.

  • Price. What is the high-end of your budget? It will be beneficial to consider what your highest MONTHLY payment will be rather than the price point of the home. Factors like property taxes and flood insurance can greatly alter your mortgage payment.
  • Location. Where do you want to live? You can narrow this down to one town or have a larger radius in mind; just be sure you would be happy in any of the locations you are searching in. If you see a dream home in a neighborhood not on your list, you will know it is not worth your time.
  • Square footage. People have different opinions on square footage. Some want spacious homes, while others are looking for something smaller and easier to maintain. Decide this for yourself.
  • Bedrooms and bathrooms. How many of each do you want in your home? How many is absolutely necessary for your lifestyle and family situation? Down the road, you could possibly add on a bathroom or turn an office into an additional bedroom, but this is costly. Consider the number of bedrooms and bathrooms you absolutely need to begin with. 

Once you feel comfortable with the above decisions, you can think about smaller item must-haves. You may care about some of these items more than others. List them in order of importance so you become very clear on what is essential.

  • Architecture/style of home. Are you looking for a classic New England cape or something more modern? This can be the biggest disagreement between couples who are searching together, so it’s something to consider up front.
  • Storage space. Do you need a basement and a garage for storage? Knowing what you need to store and how much space it takes up will assist in this.
  • Floor plan. The most sought after floor plan is an open flow between the kitchen, dining, and living rooms. If this is a must-have, you can still look at homes with some separation between rooms. You will want to determine if you can remove walls before you make any offers.
  • Outdoor space. Do you want a lot of space with room for a pool or garden, or are you looking for a property that is easier to maintain?
  • Move-in ready or fixer upper. How much are you willing to do as far as remodeling or updating your home?

Know which items on your list are must-haves, and which can wait. For example, if you know you want space for a fitness or game room, but there is only an unfinished basement, are you okay with waiting until you can remodel the lower level? Having your non-negotiable list will help you and your buyer’s agent find options that suit your needs.

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