Select A Department:

Courses in this Department

How Ready Are You to Buy a Home?

Determining Your Dream Home and Finding It!

Factory Built Homes Are Worth a Look

Purchase Manufactured Homes with FHA Loan

How to Buy a Foreclosed Home

Pros and Cons of Corner Lots

Know the Neighborhood Before You Buy

Tune in to an Open House on the Radio

Finding a Qualified Broker or Agent

Shopping for a Loan and Choosing a Lender

How to Improve Your Credit

How to Survive the Loan Application Process

Making an Offer and Signing Contracts

Cancel Your Contract in 3 Days

Understanding the Closing/Settlement Process

Choosing Home Inspection and Settlement Professionals

Double Check Your New Home - The Walkthrough

Know Your Consumer Rights

Seniors Have Many Housing Opportunities

Preparing for the Big Day -- Relocating Moving

Make Your Home Your Castle - Cost Effective Redecorating Ideas


Assessing Your Family's Needs

What would you really like in your new home?

Knowing Your Needs
Getting down to the details.

The best way to get the home you want is to know exactly what you want. You have to know whether you want a yard or not to determine whether a single family home would be better than a condo. You also need to know your real estate market. How do single family homes sell in your area compared to condos? Which has a better return?

You also need to know what features are important in your home. Do you absolutely need three full baths or would two do the trick? Do you need to be in a good school district or are your children grown and gone? These are the things worth thinking about before you start looking at every model home you come across.

Making a List

Get everyone together to get your preferences down. Start by making a list. Sit down with every member of your family and make a list of everything you would like to see in the new home. This includes everything from safety features to a home theater system. Be as complete as possible with your list. Add in a wood fireplace in the kitchen if you have always wanted one.

Be bold. Don't worry about money at this point, just dream a little about what your ideal home would have. Once your list is complete, you can get a little more practical.

How to Create the Perfect List
Wishes, wants & needs.

Start by dividing a piece of paper into three columns marked wishes, wants and needs. Then start placing each item on your list into one of the three categories.

The "wishes" column will include everything you would have in your new home if money were no object. This means items like the restaurant-style range in the kitchen or the complete home theater system in the basement.

The "wants" column includes items that you would really, really like in your new home but that aren't essential to everyday life.

The "needs" column is the crux of the matter. This column should include everything that must be in the house regardless of money. It means that any home you see that does not include these items will be marked off your list. This column should include such items as an accessible bathroom on the ground floor if you have an elderly family member living with you. It should include good school system if you have children in school still. It should include safety concerns and basic necessities, like the number of bedrooms and bathrooms.

Your List Will Help Define Your Search

It will also help direct your real estate agent or broker so he or she can show you the houses that match your list.

Assessing Potential
Can you tell what the house could be?

The Possibility of Remodeling

Sometimes the homes we like need some help. Depending on your budget, you may need to look more at the potential of a particular home than the actual structure. In some cases, it is more important that you can modify the home to meet your needs than finding the perfect home as is. This is where the ability to assess a house's potential comes in handy.

The Commonality of Remodeling
It's a homeowner epidemic.

Most homeowners tend to remodel within the first 18 months of buying a home. If you can't find a home with everything on your list, find out if remodeling may be an option. Many remodelers will give you an opinion and estimate on a new home to let you know whether your additions or changes are feasible.

For example, say you find the perfect home. It has everything you ever wanted. It is in the best neighborhood, in the best school district in the county, and has all of the basic needs you listed, as well as nearly everything in your "wanted" column. The only problem with the home is that is doesn't have that extra bedroom you needed for a home office. However, it does have an unfinished attic. Why pass on this house if you could transform the attic into the perfect home office?

Call a remodeler or architect and ask him or her to meet you and your agent at the house for an opinion. This may cost you a consulting fee, but it will be well worth it if you find out that your plan will work and you should proceed with buying the home.

Take a Chance on Potential

You can handle a little dust. Potential is worth a lot when buying a home. The likelihood that you will find the perfect house without any changes needing to be made is fairly low, especially in the first-time homebuyers' market. Be willing to modify a home to meet your needs.

How Long Will You Last?

This question reveals a lot about what you should do in your new home.

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