First-Time Home Buyer Tips: How to Set Priorities

Home buyers never get everything on their ‘wish’ list. This can be especially true for first-time buyers because they haven’t been through the process before. Still, it’s important to establish criteria early on for what you need. Here are first-time home buyer tips to help you set priorities.

1. Dream. Leveraging the Internet and online listings, buyers in this next generation of real estate have the opportunity to consider all options, get a feel for what they want, see what’s out there, and start to understand their must-haves, nice-to-haves and the bonus stuff. As the journey evolves, nail down requirements, wants and needs and prioritize them. The home search often changes, and part of the process is to learn what works and what doesn’t. But starting out with a realistic wish list will inform your search.

2. Get in the game. Next, determine the two biggest pieces of the puzzle: price and location. Price trumps all criteria. What you can afford generally dictates where you’ll live as well as the type of home you’ll purchase. The thing about location is that it can’t be taken away from you. But a home can be altered to adapt to a location. Many buyers, keen on a certain neighborhood or school district, will consider a home that needs work or one that’s not ideal for their situation simply to be in the right location.

3. Be prepared to compromise. After determining price and location, consider such things as number of bedrooms, bathrooms and the size of the home. While there are times when you’ll choose size over location, generally the location informs the size. After that, considerations such as a finished basement, large lot, pool, or open floor plan, while important, may get trumped because of location and price.

The important thing is to prioritize what you really must have vs. what you want to have and to be flexible about your priorities, when necessary. Also, think ahead. Are today’s priorities likely to be top priorities years from now?

It’s not easy to set your criteria for buying a home, given how important the purchase will be. But if you don’t, you’ll be all over the map in your home search, wasting valuable time and effort. And if you’re busy chasing properties that don’t really meet your needs, you may overlook something that does.

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