When purchasing a home, especially for the first time, the typical buyer has a laundry list of "must-haves." At least they think they do - until reality starts to set in.
Shiny new first-time homebuyers, and really, all buyers, tend to start the purchase process wanting to get more for less. Unless you have an unlimited budget, or just get extremely lucky, you're not likely to get every single items on your "must" list. Knowing that compromises must often be made, what's the best way to approach opening up your options?
Separate the Must-Haves from the Nice-to-HavesLocation is a valid category on which to base a major must-have, but even in the realm of location, there's room for some flexibility. You may have a dream, ideal location but perhaps would you be happy being within a certain radius of your dream spot. If distance and travel is more of a concern, it will open up many more neighborhoods and options to you instead of being solely targeted on one zip code.
Cash Money Versus Sweat EquityOther than location, as noted above, budget is a major limiting factor in how much and what kind of home you can get. Since you're not likely to get a visit from the fund fairy, or a money tree popping up in your yard, you can open up a lot more options in your home search by being willing to put in some sweat equity. That fantastic home with great bones that happens to be lingering on the market because it's painted neon orange? You can totally fix that yourself. You can plant some landscaping in an ugly yard and make the home beautiful. If a home is simply appearance challenged, you can even live with it, and in it, until you have time to save up the funds needed to bring in contractors to fix your hot mess of a home.
Personal PreferencesOther than budget and location, pretty much everything else comes down to personal preference. Was there something about your last place that absolutely drove you crazy? Maybe it was a lack of covered parking. In Florida during the summertime, it's downright rough having to get in a hot car or dashing through the rain to get to your vehicle. For some of our clients, covered parking is a non-negotiable, but even that could be sacrificed if you put a higher premium on other factors, such as living in your dream neighborhood, or extremely close to work.
The bottom line is, unless you have never-ending bank account, you'll probably have to compromise somewhere, so choose wisely, and don't be afraid to get creative.