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9 Things That Should Be on Your First-Time Home Buyer Wish List

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9 Things That Should Be on Your First-Time Home Buyer Wish List


2020 will be a challenging year for the housing market. There are also low mortgage rates and housing shortages to consider. Preparing yourself for the exciting search as a first-time homebuyer can help you overcome these challenges.

All you need is your first-time home buyer wish list to get started!

Wondering what you should add to your wish list? Don't worry. We've provided a few ideas that you should consider prioritizing during your search.

With these nine tips, you can find the home of your dreams without struggling through the market! Start the search as a first-time buyer with these nine tips.

1. Home Size

51% of home buyers find their dream home online. As you start searching, make sure to consider how much space you want and need.

For example, you should consider the number of:

  • Bedrooms
  • Bathrooms
  • Floors

Try to determine your minimum for each of these factors.

When determining how much space you need, consider how many family members plan on living with you. Make sure to plan for the future as well. For example, you might not have any kids at the moment.

If you plan on having kids within the next five years, you might want to look for a home with more than one bed and bath.

A home that suits you in the present might not work for you in the next five years. During your search, make sure to consider a home that will fit your future family, too. Planning ahead can save you a lot of time, money, and stress in the future.

Try to give your family room to grow. That can include room for a child or maybe a yard for a dog to play in. Either way, planning for the future can help you pay down the mortgage and build equity instead of moving between homes. 

2. Location

As you work through this first-time homebuyer wish list, make sure to keep location in mind.

Consider if the home is located close to:

  • Work
  • Schools
  • A hospital
  • Supermarkets
  • Parks
  • Entertainment/recreation centers
  • Restaurants
  • Highways
  • Public transportation

What other places do you want nearby? For example, you might want to live close to a family member or friends. If you have kids who stay with a grandparent during the day, consider that distance, too.

Choosing the right location can help you reduce your daily commute. After all, you may not want to drive 30 minutes out for a carton of milk, or an hour to get to work.

What type of area do you want to live in? Make sure to determine if you want to live:

  • Uptown
  • Downtown
  • In the suburbs
  • In a more secluded area

Choosing an area during the start of your search will help you narrow down your options. As a first-time homebuyer there are plenty of locations to choose from. Knowing where you want to live is as important as choosing a home.

Research different areas, keeping commutes in mind. If you love the outdoors, you might want to consider recreational areas, such as parks and lakes. If researching online isn't good enough for you, that's okay.

Take a drive and explore the area yourself. 

3. Neighborhood

Once you've narrowed down the location on your first-time home buyer wish list, you can take a look at different neighborhoods.

Here are a few factors about the neighborhood you might want to consider:

  • Nearby traffic
  • Quite, peaceful area
  • Younger versus older neighbors
  • Child-friendly

Visit the neighborhood and try to imagine yourself living there. Does the neighborhood feel safe? Can you imagine raising kids there?

Make sure to visit the neighborhood at different times on different days during the week. If you visit on the weekend, you might find kids running around playing. When you visit at night, do you hear anyone playing loud music or arguing outside?

Can you find everything you need within a few miles? Look for nearby malls, shopping centers, and restaurants.

If you're concerned about safety, make sure the home is located in a gated community.

4. Schools

After choosing a neighborhood, check the nearby schools. Determine if there's an elementary, middle, and high school that:

  • Are located near the neighborhood you're considering
  • Have a good reputation
  • Offer small class sizes
  • Provides a solid education

You can check online to research individual schools, including their test scores. If you can, try to speak with people who live in the neighborhood about the school their children attend. 

Adding schools to your first-time home buyer wishlist will help you plan for the future.

Make sure to research information about the school district, too. Check out these lessons for first-time homeowners to make the most of the process. 

5. Home Systems

It's important to consider the home systems available as well. Take the time to research:

  • Central A/C
  • Forced hot air heat
  • Oil heat
  • Baseboard heat
  • Radiant floor heat
  • Woodstove
  • Fireplace
  • Tankless water heater
  • Copper plumbing
  • Solar power
  • Generator
  • Security system
  • Home automation
  • Cable
  • Satellite dish
  • Fiber optic cables

Determine which items you need, want, or only wish for. Ranking these items by priority can help as you narrow down your search.

6. Home Features (Exterior)

As you start selecting possible homes, be sure to study them inside and out. That includes exterior features, such as the:

  • Garage
  • Basement
  • Driveway
  • Deck
  • Screened porch
  • Fenced yard
  • Garden
  • Pool

Again, rank these items based on whether you need, want, or wish for them. 

You can also differentiate the homes on your list based on their aesthetics. What do you want your home to look like? For example, you might want construction materials that are:

  • Brick
  • Concrete block
  • Log
  • Metal
  • Stone
  • Wood

Next, consider the exterior, including:

  • Brick
  • Cement
  • Metal or vinyl siding
  • Shingles
  • Stone
  • Stucco
  • Veneer
  • Wood

What about the style of the home? Do you want a bungalow, colonial home, or something contemporary? Take a look at photos online to help you narrow it down.

7. Home Features (Interior)

Next, head inside and take a tour! Take note of the home's interior features, including:

  • The floor plan
  • Types of flooring
  • Mudroom
  • Laundry room
  • Finished basement
  • Eat-in kitchen
  • Game room
  • Office
  • Theater
  • Master bed and bath
  • Walk-in closets
  • In-law suite

Which features do you need, want, or simply wish for?

You might want to consider the type of appliances that are included and even the countertops in the kitchen. Was the kitchen recently remodeled or updated?

Maybe you're more concerned about home energy amenities, such as fans, programmable thermostats, and skylights. Make sure to keep a list of your priorities.

8. New vs. Resale

As you start narrowing down your options, make sure to separate new homes from resales. Choosing between the two can depend on the time and effort you're willing to commit.

If you're buying an older home, make sure to request a thorough home inspection. This inspection will ensure you don't miss recognizing any problem areas before you sign the final paperwork. Take the time to review the inspector's report.

For example, the inspector might notice structural issues or plumbing problems.

For some first-time homebuyers, these updates can feel too expensive to make at the moment. Requesting a thorough inspection will help you avoid those unwanted future expenses.

Which problems can you solve on your own? Which could become costly and time-consuming? Do you have the time to commit to home improvement projects every weekend?

Make sure to ask yourself these questions before you commit to an older home. Some older properties come with a long list of issues that you'll have to take care of on your own. However, some home sellers are willing to make updates in their home for an additional cost. 

If they won't make the changes, consider your resources. That includes the time, energy, and money you'll have to spend updating your home. Is it worth it to make these changes on your own?

Maybe finding a new home is a better option. If so, consider finding an energy-efficient home. That can make the home easy and economical to maintain. 

As a result, you're cutting down your long-term costs.

9. Price

The homeownership rate in our country reached 63% in 2016. Before you buy a home, however, you need to make sure you can afford it.

First, make sure to pay down or pay off your debts. Take the time to complete a credit report and credit check. If you don't have a good credit score, you likely won't receive the best interest rate.

In fact, you might not qualify to get a loan, either. 

Next, take a look at your income and determine your budget. Knowing how much you can afford to spend on your home will narrow your list down. Then, take the time to apply for mortgage pre-approval.

Make sure you understand the home buying process. It often involves:

  • Getting pre-approved for a mortgage
  • Shopping for a home and making an offer
  • Securing a mortgage
  • Having the home inspected and appraised
  • Completing the mortgage underwriting and closing

By understanding everything involved in the price of your new home, you can make sure the home you choose fits your budget. Otherwise, you might want to reevaluate your first-time home buyer wish list.

Wish for the Perfect Home: 9 Items for Your First-Time Home Buyer Wish List

Ready to start shopping? With this first-time home buyer wish list, you can find a home that's everything you've ever hoped for. Now you can start searching.

Purchase the home you've always dreamed of. Find an agent and visit our listings today!