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Beginner’s Checklist for Housing Needs

What you'll learn: A checklist of things to consider when buying a home

EXPECTED READ TIME: 5 MINUTES

What are the things to keep in mind when determining home needs?

As you begin to think about buying a home, there can be so much to think about it can be overwhelming. If it's your first home, there are likely a lot of things to consider that you've never even thought of. We've compiled this checklist of items to kickstart your thinking. Feel free to print this out, check off things you've mentally planned for, or cross off items you don't care about or may not be applicable. We've left some write-in spaces to add your own thoughts and needs.

This list is by no means complete, and is meant as a starting point to help assist in determining what you're looking for and what's important for your needs. Consider ranking each of these items in order of importance to you, while limiting what is extremely important to a number around five. This will allow you, and perhaps your real estate agent, to best understand what’s most important to you.

Location, Location, Location

It may sound cliché, but even clichés are there for a reason. The location of your home is critically important.

  Overall location of home — city and state
  Neighborhood type
  Gated community
  Location compared to your employment
      Do you need mass transit?
      Traffic patterns and time to work
  Near good schools
  Near shopping
      Grocery stores
      Clothing
      Malls
  Near family and friends
  Amenities nearby
      Pool
      Gym
      Stadiums or arenas for sporting events
      Trails
      Access to mountains, beaches, or parks
      Other
  Safety
      Safety of neighborhood
         Street lights
         Gated community
         Sidewalks
      Review a crime database of the area
      Review sex offenders in the area
      Neighborhood watch or patrol
  Natural disaster considerations
      Flood zone
      Earthquakes/tornados/hurricanes/fires
      Exits in case of emergencies

Housing Needs to Consider:

  Location of home on the lot, or within complex
  Purchase price
  Location of the house in relation to the sun — where is the sun in the morning and evening?
  Parking
  Drainage concerns
  Steep driveway
  Winter concerns for access to home in inclement weather
  Garage needs
      Storage
      Work area
      Size
  Slope of property
  Size of property
  Pet needs
      Type of pets allowed
      Room to roam
  Yard maintenance needs and costs
  Age of home and potential repairs over the next seven years
  Style of the home and around the neighborhood
  Curb appeal
  Overall floor plan — Is it open air? Do you need more rooms?
  Number of bedrooms needed today and within 5-7 years
  Number of bathrooms needed today and within 5-7 years
  Location of bedrooms — do you need a master on the first floor?
  Location of bathrooms and access
  Do you need extra rooms like playrooms, exercise, or other?
  Storage needs, or access to storage
  Number of closets
  Fireplace
  Outdoor living areas
      Deck
      Patio
      Sun coverage
      Location of the sun compared to outside areas
      Pool
      Outdoor kitchen
      Garden
  View
  Is a dining room necessary?
  Bathrooms
      How many?
      Do you need full baths, half baths?
      Shower versus tub
  Ingress to the home — Are the steps up or down? Is there an elevator?
  Size of home in square footage
  Cost to heat and cool
  HOA and costs
  Home warranties covering major items like appliances and HVAC
  HVAC system and age
  Overall lighting
  Natural lighting
  Condition of the windows
  Finishing touches like molding, trim, or stairs
  Plumbing fixtures and condition
  Flow of the home
  Entertaining needs
  Attic space
  Basement
  Crawl space
  Special needs for wheelchair or access
  Slab concrete
  Ceiling height
  Number of floors
  Ceiling fans
  Access to laundry
  Room sizes
      Bedrooms
      Kitchen
      Living areas
  Flooring options
      Carpet
      Tile
      Wood
      Condition of the flooring — does it need to be replaced?
  How does your current furniture fit in this layout? Do you need more or new furniture?
  Kitchen
      Appliances and age
      Style of appliances
      Countertops
      Layout or flow of kitchen
      Eating areas
      Cabinet space
      Pantry
      Location of sink by window
      Gas or electric
      Lighting
      Soft close drawers and cabinets
  Access to systems like plumbing, HVAC, electrical
  Condition of house
      Foundation
      Roof
      Siding
      Windows
      Gutters
      Fences
      Electrical systems
      Additional structure like sheds
  Trees and maintenance
  Pests or insects in the area
  Any noise issues with location — trains, flight paths, schools

Other Things to Consider

  Condition of the overall neighborhood houses
  Neighbors keeping up with their homes
  Local economy strength
  Is this your “forever home”?
  Will this home last you 5-7 years?
  Growing old in the home and special needs
  Young children in the home and safety

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