Saturday, February 26, 2011

Needs vs. Wants

We've spent a lot of time thinking and talking about what kind of house we want, but not in an organized way.  So today we sat down and made a list of things we need in a house and things we want.  We wrote it all down so that when we start working with a real estate agent we'll have something to give her.  We based our list off of Fearless Homebuyer's Checklist for a Home (click here for the list) and then divided it into needs and wants.  Here's what we came up with.


Bedrooms:  At least 3 or 2 with a space for an office.  It's unlikely that we will be able to afford more than this.

Property:  A yard of some kind.  We plan to start a family and get a dog while in this house.  We're not picky about the size of the yard, especially if there is a park nearby (which there is almost anywhere you go in Portland) but there needs to be at least some sort of green space.

Public Transportation:  We only have one car, so there needs to be a way for the other to get around.  Also, right now we are saving a lot of money by not using the car every day and it would be nice to continue that trend.  Staying within walking distance of Matt's job is one option, otherwise we'd need to be within walking distance to a train line.

No Homeowner's Association:  We don't want to deal with fees, rules, or any other hassle of being told what we can and cannot do with our house.

No Pool or Hot Tub:  Mainly, we don't want to pay for a house with a hot tub when we could pay less for one without one.  Also we don't want to deal with the maintenance or the safety concerns.

Potential:  We don't plan on being in this house forever, maybe not longer than five years, so we want to try to ensure that we won't lose any money when we move.  If we're lucky, maybe we'll even make some money to put towards the purchase of a new house.  There are several factors that we think will help us with this goal.
Good or Up-and-coming Neighborhood

Good Schools

Cosmetic Fixer-upper:  Ideally we'd buy the ugliest house on the nicest block.  We are willing to do anything from remodeling the kitchen to knocking down walls to adding a bathroom to building a deck to dry-walling a basement to replacing windows to painting some walls depending on how much money is leftover after buying the house.  Obviously, the more work the house needs the lower it needs to be in our price range.
Livable:  One thing we definitely cannot afford is paying rent and a mortgage at the same time.  We also may not be able to afford to do a lot of work on the house right away.  So the house needs to be in a condition where we can move in and live comfortably in it right away (even if the ugliness hurts our eyes).


Driveway and at least One Car Garage:  We've been paying for parking or parking on the street for four years now, the upgrade would be nice and so would the storage.

Bungalow or Cottage Style House:  If we're only going to buy in Portland once it would be nice to get the true Portland flavor.  A house built between 1900 and 1920 is the dream.

Ability to change landscaping:  If you've never been to Portland you might not know about the spiders.  They are seriously huge.  A lot of people in Portland don't seem to mind them so much and they let their bushes and trees overgrow into perfect giant spider lairs.  We don't have a problem doing some landscaping to suit our tastes, but if we have a lawn full of endangered species or old-growth trees that are illegal to cut down there's going to be a problem.

Wood Stove or Fireplace:  We can pretty much count on getting one or the other if we end up with a bungalow or cottage style house.  Otherwise, it's a bonus.


We're not that picky about much of anything in the house itself as long as the price range accounts for the amount of money we'll need to put into it.  It just has to have good bones so we don't get in too far over our heads in major projects.  And of course, you never want to end up with the nicest house on the block so it has to be in a good area.  Other than that, we're excited to get shopping!

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