When buying a home, it’s important to prioritize a list of wants with your real estate agent so you don’t miss out on great opportunities. Your agent will help give you realistic expectations of what you can buy with your budget but it’s a good idea to create and manage a priority list yourself.
When you’re shopping for a home, it’s exciting to imagine having everything you’ve dreamed of all in one place. Everyone wants high-end finishes, sprawling acreages, and being able to live in an exclusive neighbourhood, but these options may not necessarily in your budget. So what do you do?
CONSIDER WHAT YOU CAN’T CHANGE
There are some things you just can’t change about a house, no matter what your budget is. These should be your first considerations when making a list of must-haves in a house.
Unless you plan on having the house lifted off the foundation and moved to a better property, you’re pretty much stuck with where this house is. Think about what location works best for you:
- Is it close enough to work and school to make morning commutes reasonable?
- What school district will you be in?
- What type of amenities are nearby?
- Is it important to you to be close to shops, restaurants, parks?
- Is there an up-and-coming neighbourhood in town that may be ripe with good deals on housing?
Ask yourself these and similar questions to ensure you the location you choose best suits your lifestyle.
You can always consider building an addition on a home, but for the most part, people usually stick with the square footage that a home offers.
- Are there enough bedrooms and bathrooms in the home for your needs?
- If you like to entertain, is there adequate indoor and outdoor space available?
- Is the property large enough or have enough room for you to expand?
All buyers tend to gravitate toward one style of house or another. Consider what type of style suits your need and lifestyle.
- Are you looking for a home that offers a main-floor lifestyle like a bungalow?
- Would you prefer a multi-level home?
- Do you have a preferred style of architecture in a home? Classic Victorian homes are quite different than newly built townhouses, for example.
- Does your budget dictate the style of home you can look for, e.g. condominium, semi-detached home or single family detached house?
CONSIDER THE THINGS YOU CAN WORK TOWARDS
You may not be able to afford the high-end quartz countertops and travertine floors as soon as you move in, but they’re definitely something you can work towards.
Prioritize what finishes and changes you want right from day one, versus those you can make over time.
What do you want versus what you need?
- Newer flooring, carpet or tiling in the home
- Stone countertops, newer appliances, renovated kitchen or bathroom
- Landscaped gardens or fencing around the property
- Finished basement, attic or loft space
- Other renovations, expansions or changes to the home
Sometimes your budget dictates what you can afford, and what you’ll have to work towards. By prioritizing these projects, you’ll have a better idea of the kind of house to shop for.
DON’T FEAR THE FIXER-UPPER
In terms of real estate, buyers often say they want a home that is move-in ready and where no renovations are necessary.
The problem is, in this highly competitive market, these kind of turnkey properties are going for premium prices,. So unless you’ve got a large budget to work with, you will probably need to consider doing some improvements to turn the home you buy into the home you love.
Just imagine what it would be like getting into the mature neighbourhood you are looking for—with great highway access, large tree-lined streets and classic floor plans at a fraction of the cost.
Banks offer great mortgage incentive programs too. They offer loans and lines of credit that allow a buyer to get the financing they need to cover the cost of renovations on a home.
The message is to not pass up the opportunity to own an older home just because it needs some cosmetic work. Go into the buying process with an open mind, look past the decor and focus on the things that really count. If you take on this mindset you may just end up finding a real diamond in the rough.
Also remember that it’s a good idea to have any home you’re buying checked by a licensed home inspector. They’ll help you determine what projects need to be done as opposed to just cosmetic changes.
If you do indeed end up buying a fixer-upper, be sure to read our blog for Important Things To Know Before Hiring A Home Inspector.
FIND HOUSES FOR SALE THAT MEET YOUR CRITERIA
Once you have narrowed down your priorities, ask your real estate agent to set you up within their real estate portal. This portal will automatically search for houses that meet your criteria and automatically email listing to you. You can mark listings that appeal to you as favourites for future reference or easily book a private showing to see a home in person.
This free service gives you access to listings that have just entered the market before the general public sees them.
As an example, we provide the same service to buyers looking to purchase a home in or near Brantford. To get started we would need to know:
- Your budget range.
- Any specific neighbourhoods in your city of interest.
- Your preferred style of home: detached, semi-detached, townhouse, condo.
- The minimum number of bedrooms required.
- The minimum number of bathrooms required.
- Any other needs, e.g. double-car garage, pool, fireplace, finished basement, etc.
To get started with our free real estate buyer’s portal, you can visit our Property Search Page to get started.