Your Home Buying Scorecard
This exercise is meant to help focus your home search, but you should also realize that it’s highly unlikely you’ll be able to get everything you want out of one house without an incredible budget or very low standards. To the scorecard!
When shopping for a home, it’s useful to start your search online for houses in your price range to see what sort of features they usually have. For example, if a $250k house in your area tends to have a fireplace and a two car garage, you know you can reasonably expect that. You’ll probably quickly realize that your expectation of acreage or a private movie theater is a little out of reach.
Grab your tablet or a piece of paper, and draw four columns. Label them like this: Definitely Need, Want, Can Live Without and Definitely Don’t Want. If you have a spouse or other person you’re buying with, make sure they make their own scorecard — no sharing answers, yet!
Now fill those columns in!
This isn’t an exercise that you should finish in a few minutes. You should spend a good week or two really working on it. Think deeply and about the long term. A few questions you may want to ask yourself include:
- Do I intend to age in place?
- Am I planning to start a family?
- Is there a style of house I’m attracted to?
- If I had a fireplace, how often would I use it?
- Do I plan to have pets?
- How close can I tolerate my neighbors?
- Do I need a garage, or am I okay with street parking?
- Consider the seasons when you are mulling over your commute. A mile walk in the summer may not seem like a big deal, but what about when there's a foot of snow?
- What do I like about where I live now, that I'd like at my new home?
- What do I dislike about my current home that I'd like to change at my next?
- Do I have a budget for repairs, renovation, etc?
As you start to take inventory of your actual wants and needs, you’ll also be eliminating huge swaths of houses in single blows. This makes your home search a lot easier.
When your scorecard feels pretty complete, make sure to compare notes with your spouse. You may have some compromising to do, especially if you’re dead set on a house with a pool and they want a small yard. With all of the details decided, you can finally call us and we'll get shopping for your dream home!