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Step 1: Determining your Wants & Needs

My buying clients often express surprise at how much what they are looking for in a home evolves as we explore properties together. 


Even so, it's good to start with an idea of what you want that can edit as we go along.


Here are some questions that will help you clarify what sort of home will serve you best:

  1. Bedrooms, how many do you need now? What about 5 years from now? How do you feel about them being split between 2 or more floors? 1 1/2 storey homes typically have the bedrooms divided between the 1st and 2nd floors.  Would you be willing to have a member of the family sleeping on a separate floor? Would you be willing to have a family member sleep in a basement bedroom if it had an egress-sized window? What if it didn't?

  2.  What style of home lends itself best to your needs? If you want the fewest stairs to have to navigate, think bungalow. Because of this, bungalows are considered the most valuable of all styles, and is therefore the most expensive. 

    If stairs aren't an issue, then bi-levels and 2-storey homes will deliver more bang for your buck.

    1 1/2 storey homes are generally the least expensive because the bedrooms are split between 2 floors and the headroom on the 2nd floor is usually poor.


  3. How many full bathrooms do you need and where do you need them? How important is a main level bathroom when there are 2 storeys? Is it important to have a master bedroom ensuite? Does a second full bathroom have any value to you when it is located in an older basement mainly good for only storage? (As many early 1900 basements are.)

  4. When it comes to the main floor layout, do you favour open or clearly defined spaces?

  5. Do you want a flexible dining area that can accommodate bigger groups on occasion or is a modest eat-in kitchen fine?

    From the standpoint of value, an eat-in kitchen with no other dining area has a low value proposition.

    The modern Great Room design is currently the most popular, but the L-shaped living room/dining room runs a close second, and is usually the easiest layout to open up


  6. What matters to you most in a kitchen?

  7. How big a fan are you of character features like hardwood floors?

  8. Would you put up with hot water heating (and therefore no central air conditioning) if the house checked off all of your other boxes. As our summers get hotter and more humid, homes without ductwork are becoming less desirable. 

  9. In addition to the living room, what other communal spaces do you need and what kind of separation – if any – do you need between them? Rec room or family room for teenagers? Playroom for younger children?

  10. Do you want or need the extra living space that a finished basement provides? Would it be good enough that a basement CAN be finished (good head room, dry, etc..)? Or is the basement of no concern except that it is dry and structurally sound?

  11. Will you be wanting a home office? Where is the ideal location for that? What about special hobbies that might need their own space?

  12. What are looking for in terms of the lot? What do you want or need in terms of a backyard space?

  13. Do you need a garage? If you found a home that didn’t have one but had the space to build one, would you consider it?

  14. What would you be willing to take on and what wouldn’t you in terms of upgrades and renovations? What sorts of renovations would you have to pay someone else to complete and which could you realistically undertake on your own? What resources do you have access to? Would you be willing to purchase a home that needed some improvements if you could get them done right away and rolled into the mortgage as a mortgage-plus-improvements? The most common of these are new shingles, knob and tube removal and new windows.

  15. What are your dealbreakers - the things you couldn't do without?

  16. What are the neighborhoods in which you would like to live? Are there any you wouldn't consider?

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