Establishing What a Buyer Wants vs Needs
A needs assessment with a potential buyer is an essential first step in the home buying process. This type of assessment helps clarify the needs and wants of the buyer, as well as their ability to buy.
The Wake-Up Call
The needs assessment starts as a list of wants, needs and ability, but it really continues until the buyer finds their home. Once the Realtor has a good idea about your wants and needs in conjunction with your price range, they’ll put together an initial list of homes to see. After touring these initial homes, buyers sometimes feel disappointed and frustrated. They’re now starting to realize they most likely won’t be able to get everything they want in a home. The Realtor can now use the needs assessment in order to help the buyer manage their expectations.
The Balancing Act
For most people there are more criteria than just the earlier mentioned ‘needs,’ and depending on how much house you can afford, other wants might be included in the needs category. When working with a limited budget, though, you’ll likely need to prioritize your wants so that both you and your Realtor know what you’re willing to compromise on.
An experienced Realtor will help you prioritize your wants and needs. The best Realtors are also masters at finding creative compromises. For example; knowing about a house for sale in your price range on a street that appears to be in a school district you aren’t interested in, but is actually just across the boundary from the district you want but didn’t think you could afford. They will help you shift your wants and needs according to your price range.
How Do You Make Tough Choices?
These are some examples of the variety of things that fall under the wants of the buyer: a basement, a finished basement, a deck/patio/sunroom, the age of the house, a gas or wood burning fireplace, the view, vaulted ceilings, a large and/or fenced in backyard, backing up to an open space or golf course, a property with trees, privacy from neighbors, acreage, upgrades (anything from granite countertops or hardwood floors to stainless steel appliances), and natural water.
Unfortunately, natural water like a running creek through the property or a house backing a lake is unlikely to be found in the Colorado Springs area. There are several small lakes in the “Tri-lakes” area (Monument, Palmer, Woodmoor and now Forest Lakes), some creeks running through the Ute Pass area and on the northwest side of town slightly south of the Air Force Academy, and creeks in Fountain and the Cottonwood area. Other than that, if you’re looking for a home in the Colorado Springs area, you’ll likely need to be flexible about whether or not a house with natural water is available.
The most important factor when buying a home is the location because it’s the one thing that can’t be changed. The second most important factor is most likely home size because it is extremely expensive to add on to a home.
Buying a home that has good resale value is often also a very important factor. If you know you’ll be transitioning out of the community within 3 to 5 years for military, job, family or any other reason, you might need to resist your desire to buy the most expensive or unique home in the neighborhood. A classic home in a popular, well-kept neighborhood will often be the best bet for good resale potential.
When you can’t find a home within your budget with the desired age, size, style, and location, it’s time to start talking about what criteria you’re willing to compromise on. If you’ve already prioritized your wants, this is a little less of a speed bump than it otherwise might be. If not, you’ll need to consider if you’re willing to accept an older home in the right area, a longer commute for an ideal house, etc. In this high-demand market, buyers are forced to make more sacrifices than they might be expecting. For example, you won’t be able to live on 35 acres and have amenities close by on a budget.
After the needs assessment, a Realtor will take all of the factors discussed into account and set up a search for the buyer. To avoid human error on either end it’s best to keep these searches basic and use pictures, descriptions and virtual tours to decide if each house is worth a showing. Too specific of a search might exclude potential houses that the listing agent wasn’t specific enough when describing. This way you won’t miss out on a potentially perfect match for you.
Every homebuyer has a unique set of wants/needs, and your Realtor is ready to work with you to find the perfect house. If you’re ready to review your Home Buyer Needs Assessment, give us a call!