Creating a wish list is a great way to get ready for your home search. Once you have begun shopping and viewing homes, it is easy to forget some of the features that you want or need in your new home - especially if the market is strong, and you are pressured to make quick decisions.
Your wish list should include all of the features you need in your new home. Homes that do not include everything on this section of the list will be rejected. A second section of the list should specify those items that you would like, but do not require. Ideally, the house you purchase will include most of these features; however, a property will not be disqualified from consideration if it doesn't include every item.
Consider the following subject areas - all of these categories should be included in any wish list.
Schools and Community Services
Even if you don't have children, the quality of the school system is a major contributor to property values. If you do have kids, the issue is a primary one. Is proximity to the schools important to you? Are you concerned about parks and other community amenities and services?
Age and Condition
Are you looking for a newer home or do you prefer an older one with more character? Are you willing to purchase a home that needs repairs or improvements to enhance your buying power?
General and Structural Issues
Do you need a full basement? A two- or three-car garage? Is central air conditioning a must? What sized lot do you require? Is a large (and level) backyard a necessity? How important is landscaping?
Style and Layout
What style of home appeals to you - ranch, colonial, contemporary, etc.? Do you prefer one- or two-story designs? Do you have any specific layout requirements or preferences (for example, a first-floor master bedroom)?
How many bedrooms and baths do you want and/or need? What other rooms must your plan incorporate - a formal living room, a dining room, a study, a family room, a large eat-in kitchen? What are your storage requirements?
Architectural and Design Features
What types of design features do you value most? Popular items include patios, decks, fireplaces, high-ceilinged rooms, and built-in shelving.
Do you particularly want any special features in your new home - views, golf, swimming pool, bonus space, expansion potential, home office, etc.? If so, how important are these items to your satisfaction with a new property?
A useful and well-designed wish list is based on reality. Consider your budget and the state of the market when compiling the list. There is no point in specifying wants or needs that are unattainable - nothing useful can come from that.
A Good Starting Point
A wish list is only a basic guideline to follow. The idea is to put your thoughts down on paper before you get caught up in the stress and excitement of the home shopping experience. Few wish lists survive exposure to the market without some change and compromise, however, it is useful to have those initial wants and needs in front of you when you are considering various properties.