What the #@¢%?! do I really want?!

Pop art image reading "What the bleep do I really want?!" with a neighborhood below

By Anita Newhouse

Buy a house, they said. It will be fun, they said.

Between gathering all the required paperwork, remembering the constant deluge of unfamiliar lingo and sorting through the bazillion different kinds of loans, I can’t be the only one wondering, “WHEN DOES THIS BEGIN TO BE FUN?!”

I’ve done my homework. I’ve considered my budget, read up on useful tips and learned about some of the sneaky ways real estate listings try to catfish homebuyers. I’m ready to get to the good stuff! I’m ready to start looking at homes I might actually buy! I’m ready to mentally decorate each room with all my things! I! Am! Ready! For! Fun!

Or so I thought. 

Only recently, when talking to a home-owning friend (who, yes, purchased her home through Flyhomes, btw) did I realize that I’ll never be able to get what I want if I don’t first know what I want and knowing what I want isn’t as simple as seeing what I want. 

Wait, what? 

Let me back up. I’ve been searching through real estate listings for weeks in hopes of finding my dream home. I figured the more I looked, the more I’d begin to narrow down what exactly it was I was looking for. Problem is, I’ve fallen in love with literally dozens of places.

Some of these places have been cute and classic cottage-style houses with quaint but serviceable yards; some have been more contemporary, newly constructed houses surrounded by chic minimalist landscaping. Some have been in my budget, some haven’t. Some have been in the city I want to live in, some haven’t. One afternoon I fell in love with a condo on the 15th floor and the next day I fell in love with a farmhouse on 16 acres. While I thought all this searching would eventually get me closer to finding The One, really I was just becoming more and more overwhelmed.

This is where my friend comes in.

“Make a wishlist,” she said. 

“Great. More homework,” I thought.

“Write down everything you want and then organize it by how important it is to have,” she said.

Of course! I felt dumb for not thinking of it sooner, but in my defense, new and overwhelming situations—like, uh, buying your first home—can make even the smartest of smarty pants forget the most basic of information. So if you, like me, haven’t yet made your New Home Wishlist, close all those real estate listing tabs you’ve been favoriting and forwarding to friends, pull out a pad of paper and a pen, and get to work.

As you write out your list, include everything that comes to mind. How many bedrooms? How many bathrooms? Is it a one-story rambler or a three-story townhouse? Is it in the city, where you can walk to the grocery store? Or do you want to live in a rural area, at the end of a long driveway lined with cherry blossom trees?

Is there a basement? A pool? A yard for the dog? Is there a dining room? A den? A walk-in pantry for the snacks? We have dozens of questions to consider here.

Now, look at your list. What features are absolutely necessary? What would you be willing to give up in exchange for something else? What is realistic within your budget and what should be glued to the inspiration board for next time? As you trim your list, almost like magic, your ideal home will begin to take shape and now you’re ready for the fun part. 

As you go out into the big world of actually touring homes, you may find some surprises. And that’s OK. It’s a wishlist, not a definitely-going-to-happen-and-now-my-mind-is-closed-to-all-else list. One thing’s for sure: it will help you narrow down what really matters to you in your new home, for your real life, in the near future. 

Want more wishlist inspo? Here’s an article about building yours and one about trimming it.

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