First, your list of musts might include things like:
The number of bedrooms and/or bathrooms the property must have – no matter your family size, there should be a minimum number of bedrooms you’re looking for. Personally, I need 6 bedrooms because of the number of individuals who will be living in my home. Now, I am looking at 4 and 5 bedroom homes as well, but only if they have space to create 1 – 2 additional bedrooms. My musts in this category look like this: 4 bedrooms with 2 additional areas that can be converted into bedrooms (i.e. loft, den, formal dining room, large garage, etc.); OR a 5 bedroom with at least 1 additional area that can be converted into a bedroom (i.e. loft, den, formal dining room, large garage, etc.); OR a 6 bedroom. In addition, it must have a minimum of 2 full bathrooms (10 people will have challenges showering in only 1 bathroom).
The area you want to live in – as my wonderful realtor told me once, you can change the house, but you can’t change the neighborhood. Well, I guess you can, but it’d be much easier to change the look, size, etc. of a property. Since I have 5 children, I am looking for low-crime areas where they would be safe playing outside, walking around the neighborhood, safe schools, etc. I think the majority of people look for low-crime neighborhoods; however, you also want to ensure you feel comfortable in the neighborhood, with the surrounding businesses, the schools your children would be going to, etc. In addition, you should consider what it is important for you to live near. For example, do you need to be within walking distance from supermarkets, major stores, etc.? Do you have a need to be near major medical facilities? These are things to think about for your musts list.
Laundry hook-up – this is a huge must for me. I absolutely despise laundry mats…especially since I’ve had to use them for the last year while living in an apartment without laundry hook-ups.
Second, your list of wants might look like this:
Sewer vs. Septic – I was really on the fence in regard to whether this should be on my must or want list. I really, really don’t want a septic tank. When they get full or clogged it tends to make a HUGE mess in the yard and/or house, and is quite expensive to fix and clean up.
Open concept – I absolutely love the open concept…airy, big, beautiful…it really makes the home look much larger than it maybe is. This is definitely one of my wants.
A specific lot or home size – this might end up on your must list, but for me (at this point), it ended up on my want list. I started out just looking at homes that are 2,000 sq ft (or larger). Unfortunately, I wasn’t finding a whole lot. When I changed my search criteria, I started finding more properties. They are still big enough for our needs, they just weren’t as big as I’d prefer.
Pool – this, for most, is a want. My husband really, really wanted a pool, and for good reason. The area we’re looking in gets quite hot (averages 100+ degrees in the summer…and at night sometimes) and having a pool would really help with cooling everyone off during those hot months. Oh, and it’s GREAT for exercising, too!
Gas line for stove – if I don’t find a home with a gas line for the stove, then that will be one of the top two renovations on my list. I have been using electric stoves for the past seven years and I absolutely HATE it!! While this is ultimately a must for me, it’s something that I can renovate once I purchase the property.
Lots of storage space (i.e. lots of kitchen cabinets, large/walk-in closets, etc.) – this, too, is a pretty big one for me. I like having a space for everything, and I like everything to look neat, clean, and organized. Without proper storage, we usually end up having piles of stuff everywhere. This isn’t on my must list because this is something I can put in at a later time to accommodate the needs of my family. I can always create room for storage.
Double vanity in the master bath – this would be fantastic to have, but certainly not a must. Again, I can renovate my home to accommodate this desire at a later date if the home doesn’t have it already.