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Buying A Home: Wants Vs Needs

Finding the right home can be difficult in today’s housing market. There are many more families looking to buy, so homes for sale are at a premium. This means you will likely pay more for the home you want and/or need, so it pays to plan ahead and be discerning about choosing and buying a home

Your dream home is out there somewhere — determining what it will be like and if you can afford everything you want in a home is of paramount importance. Balancing the “wants” and the “musts” can be tricky and painful. Follow these tips from Jeff Cook Real Estate to narrow down the choices and find the perfect home. 

Establish Your Budget 

Of course, the first step in buying a home is determining the amount of money you have to work with. Then you can decide how much you want to spend to purchase the home. You may also want to stay within a certain amount for purchase, while holding back some funds for repairs, upgrades or renovations. Several factors impact your budget for buying a home. 

Down Payment

How much money you have earmarked for a down payment will impact your financing and how much you can borrow. Conventional loans can demand a down payment of at least 20% of the asking price. Of course, any money you can pay down means borrowing less, less finance charges and a better interest rate. 

Proceeds from Sale of Current Home 

Many families are transitioning from a current home to a newer one for a variety of reasons. Buying and selling a house at the same time is possible, but it can be tricky. An experienced Realtor can help balance out the timing and details. The money you realize from the sale of your current home (after paying off any existing mortgage) can provide funds to help with the purchase of a new home. 

Extra Money in New Mortgage for Renovations 

You may want to consider “As-Is” listings to find homes at cheaper prices that may need a little work. You can possibly borrow the entire value amount, which would purchase the home and leave some extra money for renovations, repairs or adding those “wants” on your list. 

Get a Handle on Priorities 

After you’ve established your budget and how you plan to use any existing or projected funds, you need to figure out what you want in a home. Create a spreadsheet so you can combine lists of features, and categorize them appropriately. Here’s an example of the lists you should create: 

  • Must-Haves – These are essential. If a house doesn’t have these features, it won’t work for your family. Some examples can be a location close to work, location within a desired school district, number of bedrooms and bathrooms, home office space, and a full basement or garage. 
  • Nice-To-Haves – These features would be nice but you can live without them. Nice-To-Haves aren’t dealbreakers, but if you find a home that includes all or most of these, it’s definitely near the top of your list. Some examples may be a garage, storage building, home office space, entertainment room, fenced-in yard or decorative landscaping. 
  • If-I-Could-Only-Haves – This is where you dream big. You don’t need these features, but they’re on your wish list. Any home in your budget that has all the must-haves, most of the nice-to-haves, and any of these, is a clear winner. Some examples could be walk-in closets, swimming pool, farmhouse style kitchen, new appliances, real hardwood floors, garden tub or a master bedroom suite.

Discuss Negotiables 

Now, after making your lists above, discuss which items are negotiable and which ones are absolutely essential. This can mean some reshuffling of your lists. 

  • What are you willing to bend on? 
  • Is a bedroom worth giving up for a swimming pool or hot tub? 
  • Is a longer commute worth the trouble to get the kids in better schools? 
  • Is that perfect kitchen worth surrendering office space? 
  • Is a garage preferred over decorative landscaping or a fenced-in yard? 

A good plan always includes some flexibility and room for negotiation. You will rarely find a home with everything exactly as you would prefer, but getting as close as you can on your budget is the target. 

Contract with the Right Realtor 

You’ve probably heard the old adage about valuation in real estate depending on three factors: Location, Location and Location! A similar rule holds true about choosing the right Realtor: Connections, Connections and Connections! A well-connected real estate professional will have ready access to numerous properties from which you can choose, and will quickly be notified when new properties become available. 

In a sellers market, prime properties are rare and will be snatched up quickly by hungry buyers. Contracting with the right Realtor can make the difference between finding the home of your dreams and missing the best opportunities. Contact Jeff Cook Real Estate today if you’re considering buying a home in South Carolina.  

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