Thursday, May 19, 2011

What is really important in your dream home?

A couple of weeks ago I wrote some tips to help you find your dream home. I have had a couple of people ask me to elaborate, so I thought I would share with you some of the simple ways in which you can start to get a picture of your dream home really is like, and help you to find it!

What is really important to you in a home?

It is vital to discuss what it is that would truly make you happy in a home. This is something that varies wildly from person to person. Even if you are buying a home on your own, you need to really nut out what you want. If you have a clear idea of your wants and needs then it is much easier to make a shortlist of properties to look at each weekend.

I suggest that you start by making a list of all the things that you might want in a home. This is a fairly loose exercise, if you start with a broad list you can then break it in to categories of wants and needs. Remember that wants are different to needs, you have to be a little bit flexible on the wants, but it might be really difficult to compromise on the needs.

Once you have done this it is time to start that discussion. It is always possible that one person's needs are in direct conflict with the other, and this is where things can get tricky. If this is the case remember to approach each issue with an analytical mind rather than an emotional one, the last thing you want is to end up in an argument. Don't try to 'win', you need to work together to find a solution or it will always be a sore point.

Sometimes you may have different priorities altogether. Something that one person sees as absolutely essential may not even register to the other. In this case you need to recognise that particular things may be important to the other person even if you couldn't give a fig. We encountered this with parking spaces, Michael was non-negotiable about having a spot to park his car whereas I wouldn't mind at all if I had to park mine on the street. I still had to keep this criteria in mind because I knew it was important to him.

Once you have established the 'non-negotiables' it is time to make yourself a checklist. This is a super helpful exercise that saved us lots of hassle and time. Break your wants and needs down in to realistic categories- after all you did start with a broad list and sometimes they can get silly. To organise our list we used the categories must have, would prefer and added bonus. Things like 'spa bath' ended up in the added bonus category, whereas the aforementioned parking space was a must have.

Use your expert computer-fu to make up a table or spreadsheet so that you can tick off each list item as you encounter it. Have space at the top for writing the address of the property and the contact details of the real estate agent, and add some lines at the bottom for additional notes and price guide. We had a table with 3 columns; the first being the criterion, the second being a skinny column to tick whether it was present in the property, and the third to add notes about that particular item.

Print off a bunch of these and put them in a clipboard. Write the address and agent details in before you head out to the open homes so when you enter each home you can work you way through the list ticking off each item. Also remember to make notes about what you liked about the property so you can remember it when you are looking back later, even little things like 'nice cornices' or 'gorgeous bathroom tiles' can help to jog your memory about why you liked a house.

The agent will usually give you a pamphlet, carry a mini-stapler to attach the pamphlet to your own checklist.This will save you time when you are reflecting on what you have seen that day, things can get hectic when you've been to several open homes in a day and it can be difficult to remember the details of each property. The pamphlet will usually have some photos and a floorplan of the house, this will also help you to remember which house was which.

I am really glad that we took the time to work out what we wanted before we wasted hours looking at unsuitable homes. As it was we saw over 60 homes that did not appeal to us, even though they fit our initial search criteria. Finding our dream home took time but as they say; good things come to those who wait. It is worth spending a little time and effort on such a giant decision- it will save you time, effort and heartache down the track!


  1. This is such great advice Nat. Some things are non negotiable aren't they while other features may not be so critical. And yes, striking the balance between the two of you can be a bit tricky sometimes :) Have a lovely weekend, Nicolex

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