Home For Consumers... What Do I Want?
What Do I Want? PDF Print E-mail

How Do I Know What I Want?

Source: Ilyce R. Glick

Should I Make A Wish List?  What About a “Reality” List? First, let's talk about what exactly constitutes a wish list. A wish list is nothing more than a list of everything you've ever dreamed of having in your house: marble kitchen countertops, a wood-burning fireplace, three-car garage, four-person whirlpool, the best school district in you state, a five-minute walk to work, four bedrooms, a master suite with his and her closets, vaulted ceilings, etc. You get the picture.  

The best brokers in this business will ask their first-time buyers to create a wish list detailing everything they'd love to have in a home, including:

- Location. Think about where you like to shop, where your children will attend school, and where you work.  

- Size. Think about number of bedrooms you want, the size garden, the extra room you may need to expand, where you will do the laundry, and storage space. 

- Amenities. Think about the garage, kitchen and bathroom appliances, swimming pool, fireplace, air-conditioning, electrical wiring, furnace, and hardwood floors.

On the first pass, many of the items may seem to be in conflict with each other.

- You want to be close to a transportation network so it's easy to get around, and yet you want a quiet and peaceful neighborhood. 

- You might want to work, but when you come home, you want your home to be silent and secure. 

- You want a wide variety of shopping, and yet you also need to be close enough to your health club to use it on a regular basis.

- You want to take advantage of the city, yet live in the suburbs.  

But that's what a wish list is all about. If you're honest about what you want, the inconsistencies and conflicts will come out. Most first-time buyers are confused by all their choices. First-time buyers take on that "kid in a candy store" mentality.  Many have difficulty choosing between different styles of homes. One broker says she always has a few first-time buyers each year who need to see a least one of everything in the area; a California ranch, an old Victorian, an in-town residence, and several new subdivisions. It takes a tremendous amount of time, which is wasted if the buyer decides ultimately to go with a loft.  

Some brokers also use a tool to help their clients define their needs as well as their wants. They call this the “reality list”.  

Joanne, a real estate sales associate in New Jersey, says she asks her first-time buyers very specific questions about what they need to survive in their first home. "I just know their pocketbook will not allow them to have everything they want. I tell them they will begin to get what they want with their second home. Not the first."  

Here are some of the questions Joanne might ask:  

- How many bedrooms do you need? 

- How many children do you have or are you planning to have? 

- Is a garage absolutely necessary? 

- Why do you need a home with a basement? 

- Do you use public transportation on a daily basis? 

- How close to work do you need to be? 

- Does driving on a major expressway or in traffic make you crazy? 

By asking specific questions about they buyer’s daily lifestyle, Joanne and other brokers are able to center in on the best location, home size, and amenities for your budget. They can read between the lines of your wish list.  

‘Wish’ and ‘reality’ lists have another use. By prioritizing the items on these lists, a good real estate agent can tell which items you might be willing to trade off. For example, if the first wish on you list is to have a four-bedroom, two-bath house, and the thirty-eighth item is a wood-burning fireplace, then the broker knows you would probably prefer a four-bedroom, two-bath house without a fireplace to a four-bedroom, one-bath house with a fireplace.

The bottom line is this: Unless you win the lottery, or are independently wealthy, you're probably going to have to make some trade-offs when buying your first house.

Download NFCAR's "Wish vs. Reality List" to help you decide when searching for your new home!


The Northern Fairfield County Association of Realtors® (NFCAR) offers this information strictly as a guide to assist in the task of residential moving.  NFCAR, its Board of Directors, staff, nor membership may be held responsible nor liable for any inaccuracies, complications, or problems associated with your move, contracts, or transactions.  



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