Did you know that Americans move an average of every 5 years?
According to USA Today, every year 14% of the population makes a move. That’s a lot of moving!
Not only is moving a big task, it is expensive! If you rent, you’re generally looking at first and last month’s rent plus a security deposit. That’s on top of the actual moving expenses, like movers, boxes and packing materials, and utility connection fees.
For homeowners, you’re shelling out for commissions, loan fees, down payments…the list goes on.
So how do you minimize the headaches and costs of moving, and ensure that you don’t have to do it any more often than is absolutely necessary?
Easy. Pick the right place to begin with. Know what you want, and more importantly, what you need, now and in the foreseeable future, as you hunt for a home.
Write. It. Down.
Go over it with your agent, and realign if necessary based on your budget as well as the current market. But always prioritize before you shop.
To make this process a little easier, I have created this free handy template for you to use to list your Top 5 Needs & Wants. As you consider what to prioritize as your Top 5, I encourage you to think about the following factors.
Of course I am gonna go here. Have you read my blog before?!
Your Top 5 is going to be limited by your budget. Plain and simple as that. And what you can get for your budget will vary a lot depending on market conditions.
Before you start to narrow down your Top 5, talk to an agent about some items on your longer wish list. They will help you understand what is realistic and what isn’t, based on your budget and the current market.
It is possibly one of the most well known real estate cliches: Location, location, location!
But the fact is that it needs to be one of the very first things you consider. Where do you want to live? How long of a commute are you willing to have? If you have or plan to have children, what are the schools like? What about the crime rate? Is walkability important to you?
What of all of these things matter to you, and what matters most? Location is the one factor that absolutely cannot be changed, so think long and hard about where you are looking.
How much space do you need? Do you see your needs changing in the next five years? Buy the right size house for how you intend and expect to use it.
If you think you might need a little growing room for kids or in-laws, plan for that when you purchase. Either buy a little more house than you currently need, or be sure you can handle the costs and headaches of an addition down the road.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, if you are on track to be empty-nesters in the next 5 years, will you really want to have that sprawling four bed, three bath to manage once the kids are gone?
Figuring out the best fit for your situation is a personal process, but it must be considered as you think through your needs and wants.
Similar to location, this is one factor that can’t really be changed without moving. Think about what you want for outdoor spaces, and how you intend to use them, before you shop. Hate yard work? Then prioritize a small lot, or be sure you can afford to outsource the maintenance. Love to grow all your own veggies? Make sure a big lot is on your Top 5!
conditions, features, & furnishes
Lots of people think they want an old house with character. That is, until they start to see the realities of maintenance and repairs…this is not to say that a fixer or “antique” home is not for you. It very well might be perfect. Only you can decide. But I do recommend you think about how much time, money, and energy you have to give to maintenance when considering your Top 5.
In addition to the overall condition, does the home have the types of finishes and features you are looking for? If not, what will it cost to change out the counter tops or add the mill work you desire? Are those finishes even in your budget?
From wish to reality…
So you’ve done some dreaming, and then you’ve given yourself a reality check. You understand you probably will have to compromise, so you’ve identified your Top 5 needs and wants to know what you can and cannot concede. Great job!
Even then, knowing what you need and want for the short, mid, and long term doesn’t mean you won’t ever have to move again. Life happens and changes have to be made. And sometimes moving is absolutely worth the time and money.