First-time homebuyers often have a move-in ready picture in their minds before they begin searching for potential homes. Their list of “needs” is through the roof – open floor plan, granite countertops, stainless steel appliances, hardwood flooring, large master bedroom, big backyard and a privacy fence – all in that one specific neighborhood. They quickly realize it’s extremely hard to find that picture-perfect home in the location they want, for the price they’re willing to pay. As Realtors, we’re very aware of this issue – but it can be difficult to reel in buyers when it comes time to narrow down their list of wants/needs. It’s important to focus on the things that really matter in a home, keeping in mind that you can make simple aesthetic changes, or add things from your list of “wants” along the way. Network Real Estate has conveniently listed out several important factors you should be focused on when purchasing a home.

Location

You’ve heard it before – location is probably the single most important factor when it comes to purchasing a home. Consider the distance from your place of employment and take into account any commuter traffic you could run in to as a result of the location. Also, think about the proximity of the potential home to your family and friends. Although you may live in the same city, it’s possible that a 30-minute drive could significantly affect how often you see your once tight-knit group of friends. Also, take into account the school district in which the home falls in – even if you’re single. You never know what the future may hold, and it’s best to be prepared. Lastly, consider nearby shopping, dining and things to do. You’ll probably want a few convenient options nearby should you run out of a crucial ingredient midway through a recipe. And although you may plan to spend the majority of your time in your home, you’ll probably want some fresh air every now and then, so choose a location that’s not terribly far away from the fun activities you enjoy. Even if that means a stroll down the street. Is the home located in a walkable neighborhood? If not, reconsider your options.

Square Feet/Floor Plan

The actual amount of space you have to work within your home isn’t something that can be easily changed. (Home additions are always an option, but it’s best not to choose a home with the intent of adding on until you’ve asked a professional to scope out the project.) Take into consideration your furniture as well as a number of people (and animals) you plan to fit in the home. And think about their sizes too, as funny as that may sound. If you and your family are on the heavier side, you own a king-size bed and your 100-pound Rottweiler is your pride and joy – a 1,000-square-foot home may not work for you. Consider floor plans when deciding on a home as well. Will walking up and down stairs be an issue for you or a family member? Think about the future if you plan to stay in a home long-term. You may be okay with stairs in your mid-30s, but by the time you’re 60, you may find it more difficult. And if entertaining is important to you, you’ll need more square feet and an open floor plan to host your family and friends.

Number of Bedrooms/Bathrooms

When it comes to choosing a home, the number of bedrooms is crucial. While you may love everything about a particular home, it’s important to think to yourself, “Can this place really accommodate me and my family?” What about future family members? If it’s important that your children all have their own rooms, then purchasing a home with extra bedrooms is key. And if you want to have a place where visitors can stay, you’ll need an additional bedroom to use as a guest room. Also, consider how many people can realistically share a bathroom. You may have two people sharing one bathroom now, but if you plan to have children, this could become a problem. The number of bedrooms and bathrooms in a home is also an important factor in the resale value of a home.

Privacy

How comfortable are you having three to four different households that are able to see straight into your backyard? If you’re not very comfortable, will a privacy fence fix the problem? Depending on the slope of the lot and height of said privacy fence, it may not. Corner lots are usually highly sought-after properties, but keep in mind that these can be less private. If the home you’re scoping out is new construction, consider other homes that may be built around yours. Just because the property is fairly private now doesn’t mean it will be forever. Pay attention to property lines and get in contact with the builders when making final decisions on purchasing a home in a new development.

There are many other factors you can and should consider when purchasing a home. But when it comes down to it, just use your common sense. If you’ve listed a garage on your list of needs, but don’t plan to store your vehicle in it, then it’s not a necessity. If a home meets all your other needs and you merely wanted a garage for extra storage, remember that a shed can be added to the backyard of the property.

Network Real Estate’s agents are trained to find you the home that best fits your needs. But keep in mind that no house is perfect. There will always be things you want in a home that you don’t necessarily need. And if the home includes everything at the top of your priorities list, remember that you can add in those extra “wants” later. Purchasing a home is the most important investment you’ll make, so focus on those things that matter the most when it comes time to decide on the one that’s right for you.