Understanding Needs vs. Wants When Buying a Home
Have you ever watched ‘House Hunters’ on HGTV? If you have you’ll know that the basic premise is that would be home buyers are presented with several housing options and the show follows them as they decide between them.
No matter what town an episode is set in, or what the budget is, House Hunters fans know that every home buyer who appears on the show will lament that every home they are shown is missing some of the features they are looking for. And yet, 50 minutes into the 60 minute show, they always make a decision on one and the show (usually) ends with an ‘after’ segment that showcases the family enjoying their ‘happily ever after’ in their new space.
Now, while we all also know that the show is heavily staged, there are some truths in there that apply to a real life house hunt. No home is perfect and some compromise is almost always on the cards. To make the home hunt less frustrating and challenging it’s critical that, early on in your home search, you accept this fact and decide what you’d like versus what you must have
Why the Big Deal about Needs vs. Wants?
Why? Because a buyer who holds out and holds out to try and ‘get it all’ may end up spending years searching. By dividing your desires into two lists – what you need and what you want – you will be gently forced to reveal, to yourself, what it is that is truly important to you when home shopping. This will then let you go forward in your search with your highest priorities ‘top of mind’, saving you both time and frustration.
What Goes on Which List?
The basic definition of a want would be something that can, over time, be changed after purchasing a home. This could include any of the following (and more of course)
Flooring (carpet vs hardwood, tile vs carpet etc.)
Outdated kitchen appliances
Remodeled bath or kitchen
Fireplace or wood stove
Deck or patio
The Needs list, on the other hand, should be made up of things that you absolutely must have in a home and that you could not easily change. Examples would include:
Number of bedrooms
Number of bathrooms
Neighborhood, safety, good schools
Decent working furnace
Updated wiring & plumbing
You will find, as you make your list, that some of your Wants will sneak onto that Needs list. However, being tough with yourself now will make it easier later. Yes, you REALLY want a deck, so much so that at some point it became a need. But if the rest of a home is pretty much ticking all of the boxes for you is it worth missing out on it, just because it is lacking something you could add yourself a little bit down the line?
Buying a house is a big investment and it’s perfectly natural that you want to get as bigger bang for your buck as you can. However, by adding a little flexibility into your criteria for a home you’ll make it far easier to get a house you like a lot, that you can then turn into a home you love, as after all, what really makes a house a home is the people that live in it!