House Hunting Priorities

Illustrated House

J and I are currently saving to buy a house. If all goes according to plan (famous last words), then we will hopefully be in a position to buy in the next 12 months. Which means, I’ve turned into a house-hunting nut. I try not to obsess over it, but it’s hard!

When I have the spare time, I scour Zillow and Trulia for houses, just to get an idea of where and what we could afford. There are so many factors when buying a house, so I made a list of the things we really need, and the extra things we would love to have added on, but aren’t necessary.

NEEDS:

  • -Minimum of 1,400 square footage
  • -3+ bedrooms
  • -2+ bathrooms
  • -Fireplace (okay, maybe this is a want, but I’m leaving it here)
  • -Open floorplan
  • -Good schools
  • -Safe neighborhood
  • -Fenced backyard (or a yard to put in a fence)
  • -20 minutes from our work

WANTS:

  • -Lots of character
  • -Walk-in closets
  • -Hardwood floors
  • -Crown molding
  • -Garage
  • -Granite countertops
  • -Patio
  • -Basement or attic, finished or possibility of renovating
  • -Sunroom
  • -Garden

The three factors vying for my attention are the Budget, Location and Needs. Like all home-shoppers, I’m quickly learning that these three usually don’t match each other. Some of the houses I’ve looked at have a great price and location, but are cookie-cutter and average. Or are town homes that offer little flexibility for growth in the future. Others have such affordable charm, but really far from where we work. And then there are the dream homes in our dream areas with an outrageous ticket price.

I go back and forth on the whole thing:ย I don’t want to spend more than we have to just to keep up with the Joneses and live in the perfect place, but I also don’t want to settle for average, and buy just any house. Then again, I know we’re young and can always get a nicer house later and there are so many great DIY and home projects that can really spruce up a cookie-cutter home.

So, for all you home-buyers, or home-buying enthusiasts, what is the most important piece for you? Square footage? Location? Character? Appliances? Curb appeal?

I’d love to hear your thoughts!

(Illustration via adorableย Etsy shop!)

  • We are thinking about the house that we want to buy next year also. A major “need” is a fireplace and 3 car garage for us!

  • Maggie

    Location will ALWAYS be the most important factor. It’s always said to buy the worst house in the best location–you can always fix up the house.

  • OMG, my favorite topic! Just remember that YOU are in the best position for house-hunting. You don’t have a house to sell, you are in a good financial position, you have money to put down and you’ll likely get a very good interest rate. Use this to your advantage when you make an offer. The fact that your offer won’t be contingent on selling your house means that you can close fast — always a good thing for sellers.
    Feel free to email me with any questions! I would love to be a realtor, but I think I have too many morales to do well in sales (haha, just kidding…kind of).
    It sounds like you are super prepared which sets you apart from like 99% of home shoppers :)

  • Oh and in my opinion, location and the lot are the most important thing for a house, just like Maggie said. You can always change the inside (which is fun) but if you hate the location or the lot/yard/neighborhood, it’s just not worth it. I also didn’t realize just how much your neighbors affect your experience when you’re in a house. In an apartment, I didn’t know any of my neighbors, but you really get to know your neighbors in a house. It might be worth it to do drivebys at different times of day to see the goings-on around a potential house :)

  • My husband and I bought our first house last year. Things that were important to us were location (close to my husband’s job and in a neighborhood where the real estate market hadn’t been affected too much), a fenced backyard, and a good layout. We opted for buying house where we knew we could gain equity. The bathrooms and kitchen need/needed updating and there were basic things like painting that could improve the value.

    We are already thinking of things we want in our second home. We really want a move in ready home. At first all the projects and improvements seemed fun, now it’s daunting. I don’t think we’ll ever be done and there’s always something to do. Also, our neighborhood is quiet, but the roads are narrow so it’s not great for walking. I really miss the sidewalks of our old apartment.

    We looked at dozens of houses. And when we walked into our current home we both got that feeling immediately that it was home.

  • Marie

    I heard once that with home buying, you can only have 2 out of these 3: 1. Price 2. Location or 3. Quality. Unless you are really wealthy and can buy whatever you want and not worry about the cost, there will be some kind of compromises; you just have to figure out what matters most to you. It is exciting, though, to have a place to call your own!

    We chose a great, big townhouse in a fantastic neighborhood that is close to my husband’s work but really, really far from mine. But then, I work in the city and we love living in the suburbs and never plan to move closer to the city. It would have been crazy expensive even to afford anything small and modest closer in, though it would have made my commute better.

  • Carla

    My husband and I
    searched for a home for a full year before we found something. For investment
    purposes, we planned on buying a multifamily home. Searching for
    that was harder than trying to find a single family home. We needed to find
    something where we could make money and be comfortable living there for the next
    5-10 years. One of the most important things for us was the layout and space
    that our apartment should have. Second, was the location of the home. We
    finally found something that worked for us and with rent coming in, our mortgage
    is 65% covered.

    Another tip: make
    sure you have a least $10,000.00 save for emergencies. You never know what will
    break as soon as you move in.

  • Monica B

    We are in the process of buying our first house right now. Our priorities were location, pool (Phoenix), and at least 3 bedrooms on the same floor as the master. Have fun house hunting! I love looking at houses online too!

  • We bought our first home about 3.5 years ago, and I’d encourage you not to use square footage as a filter in your search criteria. People who have been in our home are always surprised to find out that it’s only 1100 sqft. Layout and high ceilings make a huge difference in the feel – our home feels way roomier than my parents’ which is over 1600sqft. Plus, we have the benefit of lower heating/cooling bills.

    Look outside of what you think your “needs” are. We didn’t want a pool, but found that the house we loved had one (and it helped that it didn’t cost more than homes that were comparable that did have pools), so we got a pool.

  • Ninja

    what is the most important piece for you? Square footage?

    -Patience. Girl Ninja and I have been house-hunting for a few weeks now and feel defeated. It’s not a good time to be a buyer as inventory is low and prices are up. As a result, the market in Seattle (and most other major cities in the country) is crazy. Multiple offers and pre-inspections are common. We looked at a 760sqft 2bd/1bth house and it sold the same day it listed for $390,000. Location, price, charm, etc is all important BUT should all come second to being patient.

    We refuse to settle and if it means we rent for another year or two that is fine by us. Owning a home will be awesome, if it’s a home worth owning.

  • SO EXCITED for you!! this really is an exciting time! enjoy it. my husband and I just bought our first house (and got married) this summer so it was pretty crazy but fun!
    LOCATION most important to us because we really wanted to say on the west side of town and in the mountains. we ended up with a smaller home than we could get in other places but we would rather be on this side of town- be near things you want to be near. PRICE was also pretty big. we set a limit and would not even look at homes that were more expensive. (you don’t want to fall in love with something out of your price range) and yes. you will probably move and upgrade when your family (and your wallets) grow but still move somewhere where you can feel at home. we have a lot of DIY projects (we are working on hardwood floors now) but you need to make sure that the layout and over all home is comfortable because you will not be able to afford all the DIY projects at once.
    my best advice: PRAY. the Lord was faithful to find us a house that was in our desired location and price range and we also happen to LOVE it!
    http://www.untilonlyloveremains.com

  • also don’t filter your search with square footage – the layout of a home can make or break a statistic like this. also most places that have unfinished basements are not listed with all that space. i say before you cross a home off the list do a walk through! and use a realtor! they have the connections to help you fulfill your wish list, find houses you never saw online (b/c they are unlisted), bring down prices, and help you deal with complicated sellers. best.

  • My hubby and I are currently house hunting right now! It’s exciting and fun but also a little scary and nerve wracking. Location is obviously very important to us – a family community with good schools for our little one is essential. In addition, of course, is the need for a min. of 3 beds/2 baths (our preference is 2.5 baths at a minimum so guests wouldn’t have to use our daughter’s bathroom or ours). And finally, we’re not looking to do a lot of projects – we are so busy and truly aren’t DIYers. Good luck with your search!

  • Nicole

    For me it was location! I bought my place near an area I love. Ideally, I would’ve loved to closer to the city… but that makes houses a little more pricey! I wish I would have thought how annoying it would be to have carpeted stairs. It is not fun to vacuum stairs, not at all. I did have to say, though, I loved my house from the minute I walked in it! Happy House hounting!