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Buying a new home? Sometimes what you want isn’t what you need

Purchasing a new home is a very exciting time, however most homebuyers will attest to the fact that they don’t always get what they want - or at least everything they want. 

Adrian Goslett, Regional Director and CEO of RE/MAX of Southern Africa, says that most buyers will have a budget that they will need to stick to, which may mean letting go of some of their wants and focusing on their needs. The question is how do homebuyers distinguish between what they want and what they need?

“Buying a home can be a very emotionally-driven decision making process, so it is not always easy to discern between a need and a want. It is sometimes hard for buyers to let go of certain wants, especially if they have an idea of what their dream home entails. However, a buyer’s dream home isn’t always the right home for their current circumstances,” says Goslett.

He adds that sitting down and making separate lists of wants and needs will save countless hours of time and energy during the home searching process. Goslett gives a few tips to assist buyers in determining which features should appear on which list:

Can you live without it?

While a want is a feature that would be nice to have, a need is something that the buyer simply can’t compromise on. These are different for every buyer and are based on both their current circumstances and future plans. For example, a young couple who are planning on starting a family would see proximity to good schools a need, along with an extra bedroom. For older buyers perhaps the layout of the home would be more important, opting for a single-story home over one with stairs. On the other hand, upgraded fittings throughout the home might be appealing, but is something that the buyer could live without if necessary.

Could the feature be added or changed?

There are certain features, such as the home’s location, that cannot be changed. Goslett says that these are the elements that buyers should focus on when determining their needs. The home’s position in relation to the buyer’s place of work and amenities such as public transport, shopping facilities and schools are very important to consider.  Aspects that can be added at a later stage or changed should be of less importance and placed on the wants lists. These would include features such as a deck or certain type of flooring, even an extra room if there is space to add on to the home at a later stage. A reputable, experienced real estate agent or home inspector could assist the buyer in determining the cost of future renovations or additions to the property.

Discuss it with your real estate agent

A real estate professional with be able to provide an objective point of view during the decision making process. While most buyers will be driven by emotion, a real estate agent will be able to provide guidance based on the facts and figures. An agent will be able to help the buyer visualize the day-to day reality of living with or without a certain feature that they want.

“Determining the difference between a want and need will make the decision part of the home buying process far easier. While buying a dream home is a good aspiration to have, it is more important to buy the right home,” Goslett concludes.


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