It seems in this "transitional community" we live in, with military, job growth, etc. we frequently do needs assessment over the phone or on-line... only planning showings once the buyers arrive and we hit the ground running.
What is a needs assessment for a home buyer? and where do we start?
Recently I had a buyer who lives here in town already and wanted to have coffee and chat before actually starting their home search. So we planned a Saturday morning meeting and here is what we talked about.
How are you going to finance your home?
We started with financing because while it is so fun to be looking at houses starting on-line, it can be disappointing and time wasted if you're not in the right target price range. There are a variety of mortgage calculators available on-line, but your best bet is to ask us for one of our awesome local lenders to start the mortgage discussion! I put buyers in the capable hands of a couple different awesome local lenders, if you are in need of one, let me know.
There are two components to the loan approval... what you can spend... and what you want to spend. (okay, there's much more than that, but this is an important part of the decision.)
I tell clients ALL the time that my husband and I never take advantage of the full mortgage amount we are approved for. We prefer to save a little for home improvement, emergencies, travel, camping, and generally enjoying life not being strapped to our house and mortgage.
So, I have the buyer thinking about the financing... and then we start talking about their wants and needs.
What do you need in a home?
The basics start with:
- number of bedrooms/baths
- number of garage spaces/carport/etc
- total square footage
- main level bedroom for elderly/disabled
- area, location, neighborhood, schools
These items are generally decided based on the size of family, whether their growing or downsizing, etc. Based on price, buyers may include other wants into their needs.
The location is often determined by job expectations and then driven by price and availability of homes nearby. I will say that Colorado Springs and the surrounding area is generally extremely easy to commute. The most challenging commute is the bottleneck at Monument, as the market has driven people out of the Denver market and into the Pikes Peak Region; however many of those still commute north to the Denver metro area daily!
Now, there are other criteria for most people, but they tend to be more in the "wants" category. I'm perfectly capable of running up and downstairs 100 times a day for my kids, my upstairs home office, etc... but we still strongly prefer a main level master.
What do you want in a home?
- basement... finished basement
- house age
- wood burning or gas fireplace
- gas range (actually difficult to find here in our average price range)
- mountain views (see my previous blog for more on that one)
- vaulted ceilings
- large / fenced back yard
- backing to open space/golf course
- treed property
- privacy from neighbors
- Upgrades (granite, hardwoods, custom, etc.. and consider location ahead of these items that can be added/changed)
- natural water... I chuckle a little when people want to have a creek running through or back to a lake. There is just very little water in our area. There are several small lakes in the "Tri-lakes" area (Monument, Palmer, Woodmoor and now Forest Lakes). There is water/creek running through the Ute Pass area and on the northwest side of town south of the Air Force Academy... plus creeks in Cottonwood area and Fountain.
Location, location, location... it will always be the case, the one thing you cannot change, location! It's extremely expensive and not always cost effective to add onto a home, so size is probably the next most important factor.
What about buying a home that has good resale?
Resale is also a very important factor when buying. If you know you'll be transitioning out of the community in 3-5 years for military, job, family, etc, you might have to stave off your desire to have the most expensive and unique home in your neighborhood. Often in these cases, the basic home in the popular neighborhood that is well kept will help tremendously with resale.
What do you give up?
Compromise - When you cannot line up the age, size, style, area, the budget for your home, it's time to start talking about which criteria you're willing to compromise... "I'll accept an older home in this area", or "I'll go farther from work for the house I want". In this high-demand market, buyers are making more sacrifices and learning what it means to compromise.
Finding the right home to buy
We take all of these factors into account with the buyer and set them up with a search. "Garbage-in-garbage-out" can be a bit of a challenge... for example, if a buyer wants wood floors & you select "wood" as a requirement in the MLS flooring field, but a listing agent forgot to check that box, a house that might work for the buyer won't actually show up on their search. It's best to keep the MLS search basic and use pictures, descriptions, & virtual tours to decide if it's worth a personal showing.
Writing this makes me realize how much I love this process. After 16+ years, I'm still not tired of looking for and finding "the one" for buyers! It's fun to be presented with a unique challenge and find the solution... no doubt every buyer that I work with has a unique set of wants/needs, it's so cool! If you are ready for a Home Buyer Needs Assessment, give me a call.