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Build Your Home Buying Criteria (and Find Your Dream Home!)

Jessica Evans

Jessica fell in love with D.C.’s unique neighborhoods while attending the University of Maryland...

Jessica fell in love with D.C.’s unique neighborhoods while attending the University of Maryland...

Nov 13 4 minutes read

You're in the market for a new home.

Maybe your first, and you’re working with a real estate agent. You’re all set up with automated notifications on new listings that fit your price range, the general vicinity that you want to live in, your requirements for number of beds and baths...

That’s where 99% of homebuyers stop, most often (and unfortunately) due to a lazy real estate agent. 

There’s so much more to it than that! There are also two major risks to stopping here. 

...First, that you’ll settle and buy a home that isn’t actually your best fit. You’ll move in and then realize the criteria you missed. 

...Second, the indefinite search: Due to lack of clarity about what really matters, you’ll search for months and never find a home that feels right. You’ll end up frustrated, feeling like “there’s nothing” that will work. 

I’ve put together this guide for building buying criteria that will ensure you land in your dream home. Whether you’re working with me or someone else, read this thoroughly and follow up with your real estate agent about any questions you have!

 1. Location and setting. 

As you think about location, ask yourself: How far of a commute is actually comfortable? Do schools matter? Will you be happy living on a busy road? What direction do the windows face? How will all of these factors affect resale value? 

If you’re looking at a condo, the location within a building matters—are you on the sunny or shady side? What floor of the building are you on?

You can’t change the location of your home once you buy it, so make certain it’s a place you’ll be happy.  

2. Lifestyle. 

How do you like to live in your current or past homes? Think about activities: What should your home support versus what doesn’t matter so much? Do you have (or want) pets? Kids? Do you need to work from home? Do your in-laws frequently visit, or do you rarely have guests? Do you have aging family members? What aspects of your life may change over the next 3-5 years? The future is hard to predict beyond that. 

The goal is to find a home that serves you and your lifestyle, so these questions are critical considerations. 

3. To Fixer-Up...or not.

Is the idea of transforming a home into exactly what you want appealing? Or, does the thought of home improvement projects make you cringe? Are you ready, willing, and financially able to take on projects in your first year of homeownership? What about longer term? Answering these questions help to determine what condition is a good fit, which will have a big effect on the negotiation process. 

Looking at the results of your brainstorming session, make 2 columns. Column 1 should include the things you want that you cannot change. For example: location, square footage, or whether or not you have a yard. Column 2 are the things you’re looking for in a home that you can change (even if you don’t want to) such as bedrooms, bathrooms, paint, or floors.  

A little time and effort up front to intentionally build your search criteria will save you a lot of time and money in the long run. If you have questions or would like to talk to me about your search criteria, let’s chat!

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