Finding a home that’s right for you

When you’re starting the process of finding a home, there’s often a lot of pressure to land on the “right one.” But what’s right for one person doesn’t mean it’s right for everyone—it all depends on your specific circumstances and needs. For example, many Baby Boomer 55+ home shoppers are now looking to downsize in warmer climate areas, as their adult children no longer live with them, but are interested in upgraded amenities and more efficient floor plans to accommodate their long-term goals. Gen-Xers, on the other hand, are looking for larger, single-family homes where they can raise their growing families, prioritizing suburbs that are more affordable but still within safe neighborhoods and good school districts. And Millennials, today’s largest homebuying segment, are looking to live near major metro areas so they can be closer to jobs and things to do—and, while they value new appliances and open spaces, they are less concerned with the longevity of a home because they expect to upgrade in the coming years.  

Ultimately, the homebuying process can look different as it pertains to different lifestyle goals, and it’s important to sort out your personal wants vs. needs before you can find a home that supports them. All of this information and the emotions that come with the home buying process make a clear checklist of wants and needs an essential homebuying tool. Get our house hunting checklist and other homebuying resources below to support you on your journey.  

The Difference Between a "Want" Vs. "Need" When Homebuying 

It’s essential to know the difference between these two checklist items, as each is distinctively unique. Every homebuyer needs a sufficient number of bathrooms and bedrooms for their family and a roof over their heads, while luxurious amenities might not be necessary. Let us walk you through the differences between the two and how they impact your home buying experience.

What is a Homebuying Need

Let’s start with the necessities. Your checklist's “need” category is precisely that, items that you need to have when buying your home. Things like location, adequate space, and budget are all high on the priority list when shopping for a new home. Maybe you require a single-family home vs. a condo and need three bedrooms for your children. These could all be essentials that would be very difficult to change.

What is a Homebuying Want

Next, we have the “want” category of your checklist. These are items that you want but can live without. They could also be added to your home at a later point in time. The wants should be flexible, as you should be willing to compromise if the home doesn’t have what you exactly want. Having an amenity like a swimming pool or the specific modern farmhouse aesthetic are both wants, but you would be happy to forego these requirements if the house had everything else you desired.

Questions to Ask Yourself

Before you dive into our Wants vs. Needs checklist, there are a few things you should ask yourself so that you can put yourself into the right mindset.

How Long do you Plan to Live in Your New Home?  

While this depends on the individual, the National Association of Realtors exclaims that the median duration of homeownership in the U.S. is 13 years. It is essential to consider your long-term goals before deciding on a new home, as they will most likely impact the duration of time you spend in your next home. When moving forward, these long-term goals will also impact what you consider a “Need” vs. a “Want”.

Are your home buying expectations realistic?

Whether you are a first-time homebuyer or not, setting realistic expectations during the homebuying journey is crucial. If you are trying to find everything you want in one house, be prepared to be disappointed. Start your research early to better understand what is currently available, what the market is like, and what you can afford, to be emotionally and financially ready.

What are some things that you do not like about your current home?

Take the knowledge you have from your existing living situation and even past living conditions to help you fill out your home buying checklist. There will be things that you love and dislike about your current and past situations that you will want to incorporate into your list.

Needs in Your Home

Before you start searching for your new home, you need to first figure out your priorities. Ultimately, the “needs” are things that a home buyer needs to determine before searching. If a home doesn’t meet these “needs” then it might not be the best fit. Here are some things to consider when determining your new home needs: 


How much house do you actually need to accommodate your lifestyle? Your “dream home” isn’t necessarily a mansion with a pool—it’s the place that can support you comfortably today and in the foreseeable future, as well as imagine a lifetime of possibilities to personalize your dream home the way you please.   

When separating the nice-to-haves from the must-haves, think about those items that will add value to the house, and those that will not. According to a Money Under 30 article, home features like the countertops or flooring can be value-adds, while more personalized features like a unique accent wall color might not be. Keep in mind that your “wants” can also be added or changed on your own in the future, and don’t necessarily need to be part of your selection upfront.  


When you buy a new home, not only are you buying the house itself, but in the area that it’s in. And while there is no one formula for determining the perfect location for you, you can narrow it down by considering things like: proximity to jobs, restaurants, and entertainment, the quality of school districts, local crime rate, etc. Read our guide on choosing the right neighborhood to help you determine your location wants vs. needs.  


Of course, sticking to a set budget is crucial when choosing your next home. Needing to stay within budget is something that will trump most other items on your checklist. It’s important to set a budget early on in the home buying process and to stick to it.

Wants in Your Home

As a home buyer, your “wants” are essentially the nice to haves but are not necessary. If a home does not have these items, then it should not be a deal-breaker. Here are some things to consider when determining your new home wants:


When separating the nice-to-haves from the must-haves, think about those items that will add value to the house, and those that will not. According to a Money Under 30 article, home features like the countertops or flooring can be value-adds, while more personalized features like a unique accent wall color might not be. Keep in mind that your “wants” can also be added or changed on your own in the future, and don’t necessarily need to be part of your selection upfront. 


When buying a resale home, always keep in mind that interior and exterior aesthetics can easily be changed and updated at a later time. Items such as flooring, carpets, paint color, and appliances can all be changed. If you are considering buying a brand new home, many home builders let you choose these amenities when you are in the design process.

Once you finally find the home that meets your criteria, how do you know when it’s time to pull the trigger? Our Home Selection Checklist can help you determine if the home you’ve found is right for you.  

Wants Vs. Needs: Your Ultimate Checklist for Finding a Home

A Home Selection Checklist to decide what you want in a house vs what you need in a house.

[Download your personalized Want Vs. Need checklist here!]

Help through the homebuying process

At Shea Homes, we know what a big decision it is to buy a new home, and we’re here to help you through every step of the process. Get off on the right foot by first checking out some of our other homebuying materials and guides, curated just for you: 

Lastly, check out our Resource Guide, designed to provide you with all the tools and info you need throughout the homebuying journey. Here’s a quick overview of some of the resources you’ll find: 

At Shea Homes®, we treat our customers like family, and want to help you in any way we can to make your journey to homeownership a memorable experience. Reach out on social if you have any further questions on the homebuying process, or if you’re ready to find your dream home, explore our new homes today.  


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