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House-Hunting: It’s Hard Work!

We spent years talking about owning a home and 21 months earnestly saving for one, but I guess I didn’t ever realize the work involved in actually buying a home. In fact, after the very first week of house-hunting, I asked my husband sarcastically, “Can you just find us a house and then surprise me?”

It’s not that I didn’t care, I was just beginning to realize the magnitude of time and effort house-hunting involves. My life is already quite full as it is, how was I supposed to carve out a number of extra hours each week for poring over online house listings and Google maps, driving around looking at homes, discussing the pros and cons of potential homes with my husband, scheduling viewings (and babysitters for those viewings!), and then actually going and walking through different homes?

It felt like I was practically taking on another full-time job!

(As a side note, I now have tremendous respect for those of you who are somehow managing to look for a new home and sell your current home at the same time — wow!)

We slowly have found our “groove” when it comes to house-hunting. And we’ve found that it’s helped tremendously for us to stop trying to look at every possibility out there and narrow down the search field. Here’s some criteria we’ve decided to use:

1) Location — We picked three locations we’re interested in. If a home is not in one of those three areas, we’re not even looking at it at this point.

2) Features — We picked three features which were most important to us: a good-sized kitchen, three bedrooms on one floor and a Master bathroom. When we look at a listing online, we first look to see if the home has these three things. If not, we don’t even bother looking further. (Our “most important features” might seem silly to some, but we’ve live in enough different rentals to know what works best for us!)

3) Pictures — A picture speaks a thousand words–especially when it comes to a potential home to buy. If the online pictures don’t “wow” us, we don’t pursue the house. I mean, if it looks ugly and ill-suited for our family online, I can’t imagine that it’s going to look ten times better in person.

If a house meets the above criteria and is in our price-range, than we’ll look at it. Otherwise, we pass it up. By following this method, we’re looking at fewer homes, for sure. But we’re saving a lot of time since we’re only looking at homes which are really good possibilities.

Just for fun: If you were to choose three non-negotiables you must have in a home you’d buy, what would they be? I’d love to hear!

Coming next time: A Good Realtor is Priceless

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  • yay for you! exciting times……….

    3 musts:
    1] master bathroom
    2] large backyard + maximized living room
    3] fireplace

    okay, just make sure you don’t pass up a lovely buy–because there are some pretty tacky and scary photographers out there! 😉
    [just a thought]

  • Kimberly says:

    1. Two bathrooms
    2. A decent sized yard for the kids to play in (currently we don’t have a very large yard and our children are outgrowing it, verified this past weekend by the neighbor’s window my tween broke while kicking a soccer ball).
    3. A lot of counter space and cupboard space in the kitchen.

    My husband would probably change #3 to a large garage with room for a workshop.

  • Crystal says:

    Want to hear something funny? My Husband *surprised* me with our 2nd home. We were moving from AZ to NM – I knew the neighborhood I wanted, so I was happy to have to him pick out our house. I didn’t see our home until we moved in! We’ve moved from that house since then, but I miss all of the features it had! My Husband is a great home-buyer!

    • emily e says:

      I have a friend whose wife and MIL picked out their house while he was out of the country. We were all dubious about it- but it is an absolutely AMAZING house.

  • Amy Andrews says:

    1. Must have good, natural light with the bulk of the windows facing south, southeast or east.

    2. Must not be on a street others use to pass through the neighborhood. Too much traffic for the kids.

    3. Not too big. It’s too much to clean, too much to maintain and too much to pay for.

  • Christine says:

    We just bought a house a couple months ago, and yes, it is a huge, long process. Though we were coming from an apartment and looking for our first home so we didn’t have to worry about selling it.

    Actually one thing we do tell people is *not* to go by pictures. They never give the full view of what the house is like. Of course, there are those houses where it’s clear that it needs a lot of TLC or whatever. But we almost didn’t even *look* at our current home because we weren’t impressed by the pictures online. Once we stepped inside we fell in love.

    Good luck with your search!!! It’s hard but SOOOO worth it in the end!

  • Brittney B. says:

    We’re actually looking for a house as well! I absolutely hate it! Our must haves are a decent shop/garage since my husband restores old cars/trucks, at least 2 bedrooms on the ground floor, so we can be near our 17 month old son, and another room downstairs that can be used as a playroom. I don’t think that is too much to ask ha ha! When investing that much money into a home, it’s best to be picky, or you’ll regret it later down the road!

  • Obviously price would be our first consideration. When we purchased our home, we were approved for 1/3 more than we actually spent! I can’t imagine having that huge payment through the three layoffs we have survived while living in this home. Our second consideration would be location. We must have greenspace, so we chose a home on a greenbelt, and take advantage of the land behind our home for sports, and a fantastic view! Our third consideration would have to be room size/bathrooms. If the rooms feel cramped, or don’t “flow”, I don’t want to live there.

  • New England Girl says:

    We’re house-hunting too, and my 6-year-old has two requirements: an upstairs and a fireplace. My husband agrees. 🙂

    We’ve been living in apartments our entire marriage and having the bedrooms on another floor than the kitchen would be bliss!

  • Hey, we’re actually getting ready to put our house up for sale. Wanna move to Ohio? 😉

  • Kayla says:

    When we were looking for our home the house we ended up in did not interest me at all with the pictures posted on the internet but there were not many choices in our area so we gave it a look and as soon as we walked into the house we knew it was the one and here we are 2 1/2 years later loving every bit of it just as much as the first day we stepped inside.

  • Helen says:

    If I was hunting for a new house now I would say it needed 4 bedrooms, a fenced in yard and plenty of storage and counter space in the kitchen!

    We have two of the three right now, but are short on bedrooms.

  • Lourdes says:

    Just 3?! We’re so picky! We’re on the market, selling our home, I’m pregnant and we have a toddler–it’s really stressing me out.

    1. play area indoors and outdoors (yard)
    2. garage
    3. one floor!

  • Christy says:

    We recently moved into our current home after spending 2 years looking for the right place, it does take a lot of work.

    My top 3 things would be:
    1. Good size kitchen
    2. Large yard (spent 5 years living w/ an extremely small yard)
    3. Good school district (even if you homeschool this is important, because it will effect whether or not you can sell your home later)

  • Mrs. Giles says:

    When we were looking but didn’t buy we decided not to look at foreclosures because the banks to long to make decisions not to mention the hidden fees. We also decided no matter what we would not pay the asking price and would only consider a house if they would pay the closing costs. Whatever you do even though your not required to because you’re paying cash get your own inspection and try your best not to get involved in a bidding war. In the end only the seller wins 🙂 Hope that helps. Be blessed in looking!

  • Jennifer says:

    Acreage. 2 toilets (I don’t care if they are in full baths or not so long as there is 1 toilet per 3 people and sometimes even that’s not enough!) Laundry facilities inside the house not in the garage. When we bought our current home, I forgot about number 3 because we were so excited to find a house with the first two. Now I schlep the laundry out to the garage even in the middle of winter. It gets cold out there! This winter the liquid detergent solidified on me and I had to bring it in to warm up. Happy house hunting!

  • Tabitha says:

    1. Lots of counter space in Kitchen!
    2. Larger yard
    3. One level. (I have a hard time getting clean clothes upstairs after I fold them. And the kids toys are all over the living room cause I don’t want them going up and down the stairs without me!)

  • Shelley Gardiner says:

    A laundry ROOM not CLOSET. Also a masterbathroom and of course a good PANTRY..

  • Sara says:

    1. New windows
    2. Master bathroom (a must have)
    3. Updated kitchen (must have enough space for the whole fam to fit)

  • I LOVED house hunting, but we did it before we had children. I had 4 main criteria:

    1. Three bedrooms ON THE SAME FLOOR. I could not stand to have my young children on a different floor than us.

    2. At least two bathrooms (although one did not have to be a master).

    3. Walking distance to town. I did not want to rely on the car – best decision ever! We love taking walks to the library, the community center, parks, the grocery store, and the bike trail.

    4. A quiet street – street could not have double yellow lines. We ended up on a cul-de-sac, which was not my criteria, but I’m glad we did. It’s quiet and the kids can play in the front yard without worrying about cars.

    Hope you find something soon!

  • Sommer says:

    Our current house works for my husband and I since its just the two of us but once we start having children its going to get cramped fast! My husband owned the house before we met and his criteria when he bought it at 25 are VERY different from what he’d (and I’d) want now!
    Must haves for my “dream” home:
    -2 full bathrooms
    -1st floor laundry (ours is in the basement and it gets old having to lug baskets up and down stairs all the time!)
    -Open kitchen/dining/living area (our current house was built in the 50’s and the kitchen is separate from the dining and living areas, it is not good for entertaining/holidays/family gatherings at all!)

  • Shannon says:

    1. Definitely a downstairs master bedroom.
    2. A pantry and lots of kitchen space.
    3. Some type of outside storage.

  • Heather Nothnagel says:

    1. A well thought out kitchen with plenty of cabinets, pantry and room for a table with chairs around it.
    2. A large back yard. We’ve always had a decent sized yard. I think it’s silly to pay X amount of money on a house that has no yard! Of course, there are reasons why some people don’t want a yard too, but for us this is what we like.
    3. A laundry room. Right now ours is just a small one off the garage door coming into the kitchen. The washer and dryer face eachother and there’s room for nothing else. It’s loud when I’m doing laundry and in the kitchen at the same time.

  • Challice says:

    1. A woodstove/ fireplace. Silly I know but we want/need one

    2. at least 3 bedroom. 1 parents, 1 boys room, 1 girls room

    3. bathtub. I never knew how much I love bathtubs until I had babies. Sinks dont always work with the layouts….

  • MGuild says:

    A garage or shed to store the lawnmower, children’s bicycles, and tools. More than one bathroom so that when an emergency hits and the bathroom is occupied, there is a spare. A kitchen with adequate storage–preferrably a pantry. I have found the rest to be “take it or leave it” items. But in the different places we’ve lived, being without these three things proved to be the most inconvenient for me. If I had to add one more personal thing, it would be natural light. I get really down if the house is gloomy and dark. I’d rather compromise on size and have it be light and cheery.

  • Connie says:

    We bought our home 22 years ago, long before the internet and even before photos. It was a grueling process back then, with only a description to go by. We had a new born and 2 year old and I have to say, it was a tough time.

    We nearly gave up when we drove past a home that was for sale by owner. We loved it, we bought it, and we’re still in our “starter home” all these years later. Is it perfect? Nope, but it’s the home our boys know as their childhood home so it’s perfect to them.

    I guess my advice is, buy what you love and then learn to love what you bought, because that starter home may be your retirement home as well 🙂

    Enjoy the process and thank goodness for photos and the internet!


  • Susan says:

    When I bought my condo in Chicago, I had three “must have two of the three” items on my list – central AC, dishwasher & laundry. My place has the AC & Dishwasher and has free laundry in the building. Works out great!

  • shelly says:

    1. No swimming pool…..way too much maintenance, cost, and liability.

    2. A 2 car garage

    3. Within city limits (want to have emergency services at our fingertips).

  • Karen says:

    The two things we wanted and gave up for this house are a 2-car garage and large kitchen. After 11 years the galley kitchen and 1-car garage have got to go! We’re hoping to stay put and remodel… those are at the top of our list.

  • MrsD05 says:

    1. Location- hubs would love to live closer to his job.

    2. Storage space in the kitchen- including an eat in kitchen. I didn’t even know that they made kitchens that weren’t eat in. But I now own one. hmph.

    3. Master bath with two sinks. Hubs would like a larger tub because he likes baths and he’s 6’2″ and barely fits uncomfortably in our current tub.

    My biggest piece of advice is to not fall for the staging tricks or the tricks the home builders use to make houses look bigger. For example our kitchen looked big but only really has two cabinets and not enough room for a table. It has a big window though and an open cutout window thing into the living room that made it feel huge. Try to picture your things in the home or putting away your things. Where would you put your crockpot, coffee maker, bookshelves, etc.

  • Rita says:

    Its hard work but so worth it when you find that one gem. Kind of like marriage. I think you should rethink nixing a home based on a bad picture. Unfortunately there are a lot of bad agents out there and you might miss out on a good home based on a bad picture. Those agents also tend to price wrong and you might get a great deal because others do the same and pass up a home based on the ad.

  • My 3 non-negotiables are: triple pane vinyl windows that tilt in for cleaning, nice yard and landscaping, large, updated, functional kitchen. When we bought our current home 5 years ago my non-negotiables were different (2 closets in the master bedroom, school & a formal dining room). I guess some things you just have to learn the hard way!!

  • my top three are
    1. two full bathrooms (we have that now and i wont compromise on it)
    2. at least two bedrooms + a master bedroom
    3. a nice sized FENCED in yard.
    and i cant just knock it down to 3, so my fourth is a kitchen with lots of counter space, doesn’t have to be a big kitchen, just a lot of counter space.

    My husbands top 3 are different than mine which is making house hunting almost impossible.
    1. basement
    2. location: he wants to be in the country/boondocks
    3. garage & big shed

  • OH I was waiting all day for this post! I guess I’m sort of the other way around, I loved doing home searching. The part I found stressful was escrow! Of course part of that came from figuring out loan terms and what it all meant (trust me you are sooo lucky to not have to worry about a loan!) Then the sellers (it was a company, not individuals) tried to sneak in some paperwork at the last minute (literally after I had reviewed the documents and was signing) and that paperwork was something they expected me to sign without reading, but I’m a bit of a nerd like that and read it, I immediately called my realtor who confirmed my fear that it was a document waiving my rights to come back to the seller (sue for damages) if we found they had not disclosed major problems with the house that by law they are required to) Talk about stress! Anyway I refused to sign and they had to redo the documents but it was just stressful. And the house was fine. (I had become worried the seller was hiding something since they tried to sneak that document in but it turned out it was just something they thought they could get away with as extra protection for themselves)

    For our three top haves (besides location) I’d have to say:
    1) having 2 bathrooms was one of the biggest issues! for years we shared a bath and with two working adults with the same work schedule it makes for somewhat hectic morning.
    2) NO homeowners association (we didn’t want an extra monthly fee to be told what color we could paint our home, I know some people love associations but it just isn’t for us.)
    3) at least 2 bedrooms (preferably three but we would have settled for 2 if the rest of the house was ideal)

  • Deanne says:

    1. Big backyard-I enjoy having a large space for my vegetable garden, I also like to have family & friends over for BBQ’s.
    2. Kitchen floorplan-This is the main hub of my home.
    3. Washer & dryer outside- If there is ever a water problem, it will atleast be outside.
    Also, before you decide on your home, drive around the area at different times of the day and week to see what the neighborhood is really like.

  • Well, we won’t be purchasing a house for many years, but these would be things I would look for:

    1) fenced yard
    2) good-sized kitchen
    3) 4+ bedrooms
    4) 2+ bathrooms
    5) family room in addition to living room
    6) 2+ car garage
    7) safe, quiet neighborhood

  • Sarah says:

    My top 3 non-negotiables:
    – Basement. I currently do not have one and I am terrified of storms. There is no safe place in my home for our family when storm warnings hit. A basement is a need for me 🙂
    – No registered sex offenders in the immediate area. I check this on my state police website.
    – Safety features (or a “fortified” home). For me, this means there are egress windows in the basement, escape ladders in upstairs bedrooms, smoke detectors, carbon monoxide detectors, the home is built to withstand high winds, home is not in a flood area, has been checked for lead and mold growth, new wiring, and within 100 yards of a fire hydrant.

    • Andrea Q says:

      @Sarah, It’s worth checking, but don’t let it give you a false sense of security. Not having registered offenders in your neighborhood does not mean they are not there.

      On average, child molesters victimize more than 60 kids before they are caught. One in 4 children will be sexually abused before their 18th birthday. One in 10 men have sexually abused a child. Only 16 percent of abused children are able to bring themselves to tell while it is occurring. It is believed that only about 3 percent of sex offenders are prosecuted.

      Nothing replaces the need for supervision and loving parents who create an environment in which children will be less likely to be victimized, and more likely to tell if they are.

      • Susan says:

        @Andrea Q,

        Well said Sarah. There are sex offenders everywhere. The ones I know about don’t worry me nearly as much as the knowledge that there are many that I don’t know about. Children are much more likely to be abused by someone who ISN’T a registered sex offender. Also, just because there are none in your area doesn’t meant that one won’t move in after you purchase a home.

        • @Susan, Also, they can always move in nearby after you buy. If you want to minimize that risk you can buy a home close to a school or park (I forget exact distance) but registered offenders are not allowed to live within close proximity to schools and parks. I believe there are a few exceptions but I think it depends on the state you live in.

  • Jessica says:

    I think your list is great! It was very similar to ours, though we wanted a guest room and bathroom since we get tons of overnight guests. And we wanted a backyard.
    Through it all God directed our steps as He is doing with yo guys now too – even if you feel overwhelmed by the options!! We ended up buying a house that we passed over twice – first time was bc it was out of our price range. We looked at the online listing more closely when it dropped $40,000 in price but couldn’t get passed how ugly and run down it looked so didn’t bother looking at it.
    It’s humorous now, but God was definitely trying to get our attention!! My husband ended up randomly driving down the street and saw the house and remembered the listing… So the Lord!! My husband told me the house was stunning and nothing like the images and sure enough he was right! The images were beyond a terrible representation.

    As I said before I think your way of narrowing things down is great and He will lead you. So excited for you!!

  • Andrea Gubser says:

    1. Location. Living in CO I couldn’t imagine having a hill for a driveway! And I’m so happy to be on a cul-de-sac within walking distance of the school!

    2. We’re in our forever house, but if we ever do move again, I would make sure the master bedroom is NOT above the garage. My husband works weird hours and the garage door always wakes me up!

    3. In a dream home? An “I’ll never have it home?” Plus, nobody ever builds it like this home? I’d like a mud room off the BACK of the house. Snowy kids and dogs can dry off before mucking up my hardwood floors!

  • Rachel A. says:

    We are looking for houses; still waiting to hear back on a short sale offer.
    But my three would be
    1. Lots of storage
    2. big size yard
    3. two living areas for entertaining
    4. room to grow (4 bedrooms)

    • Coletta says:

      @Rachel A., Rachel,
      My husband and I put in an offer on a “short sale” home 37 days ago and we have already been accepted and about ready to close (this Friday, April 30th). If you have not heard back from the bank/realtor then you might want to “bug the heck out of them” for an answer. We have found that there is no true need for the realtors and banks to take forever on approving a “short sale” home… they are just holding your contract and hoping to get as many more as they can before having to decide on the offer they are going to accept. We let the realtors envolved along with the bank know that we were “not” going to be drug threw the mud and wait forever for an answer… because of that the bank did not just sit on the offer. They actually responded quickly.

      My three “must haves” are (besides good schools):

      1) large yard… we have four children (6, 5, 4, 3) and have owned homes with just 1/4 to 1/3 acre and they are not big enough.

      2) large kitchen… both my husband and I love to cook and we usually spend quality time together in the kitchen with the kids. A must have in my book!

      3) an office or spare bedroom… my husband and I both work from home and he has to have a quiet place to work (computer programmer).

      House hunting can be alot of fun and time consuming too, but well worth it in the end!!! Happy hunting:)

  • lele says:

    1.- Check to make sure there are no registered sex offenders close, this also means living near a school or day care even though our kids don’t go to public to make sure none can move there.
    2. Brick house, no painting and no siding blowing off or needing repair
    3. Living room that could easily be gated for children
    All of this beside the bad/bath /cost

    • Andrea Q says:

      @lele, It’s worth checking, but don’t let it give you a false sense of security. Not having registered offenders in your neighborhood does not mean they are not there.

      On average, child molesters victimize more than 60 kids before they are caught. One in 4 children will be sexually abused before their 18th birthday. One in 10 men have sexually abused a child. Only 16 percent of abused children are able to bring themselves to tell while it is occurring. It is believed that only about 3 percent of sex offenders are prosecuted.

      Nothing replaces the need for supervision and loving parents who create an environment in which children will be less likely to be victimized, and more likely to tell if they are.

  • ShannaRae says:

    I spend a lot of time dreaming about the home I want to buy. It seems so far in the future. Oh well, at least I can dream.

    1) at least 5acres of land. I have chickens and want goats and sheep at least. I want a homestead.
    2)hardwood throughout.
    3)big kitchen with lots of cupboards and counterspace. An island would be so great!
    and I have to put another one….
    4)master bath with a big tub. Ahhh….I can just imagine. lol

    Good luck on the house hunting. I think we are planning to start saving for ours next year. This year is just too crazy to even think about it too much.

  • melanie keck says:

    go with your gut! that is the best advice I can give you! at some point there may be one that doesn’t quite seem to fit into your criteria but you get a feeling about it, LISTEN TO THAT FEELING Sometimes those gut instinctswill lead to a place where it all falls into place and is perfect after all!

  • Andrea Q says:

    House hunting is so stressful. I did not enjoy it at all. My husband ended up purchasing our home for us, as we bought 2,500 miles away from where we had been living. The house he bought is a lot bigger than I would have chosen, but overall is great.

    My top three are 1) two bathrooms 2) no lead paint and 3) backup heating source for power outages. My “dream” house would have downstairs laundry so I could leave it running at night without bothering people and mostly hardwood/tile flooring. I am really not a fan of carpet.

  • Jenn Lewis says:

    Ok, I’ll play. 🙂
    We’re in our third home since we moved to NC in 2000… and yes, we owned all 3, not rentals! We built this one 3 1/2 years ago because I couldn’t find an existing home that met my criteria. 🙂 So here are my top 3….
    1. School district – I’m not brave enough to homeschool, so this was the top on my list. Our location was super important.
    2. Laundry room on the same floor as the bedrooms – in our last house, the laundry closet was on the main floor and all the bedrooms were upstairs. Made no sense to me! So i had to lug all the laundry down, then lug it all back up! A man definitely designed that floorplan! Especially considering that the laundry closet was in the main hallway in front of the front door, so if someone dropped by unexpected, I sometimes was sorting dirty laundry in the hallway floor!
    3. Two extra rooms besides bedrooms – I never wanted my kids to have their toys in their rooms (too distracting at bedtime, etc) or in our living room (been there, done that!). So I wanted a separate room for their playroom, and it had to have a door on it! Also, I’m a photographer, so I needed an office and storage area for my computer, equipment and props. I need a door on this room too, cause it’s not always pretty. 🙂

  • Christina says:

    1. STORAGE!! I love our home that we are in but it has absolutely no storage. As newlyweds we didn’t seem to notice that as we didn’t even have furniture to put in each room when we bought it. But as we stay here longer we realize there is no where to put anything!

    2. Large, functional kitchen

    3. Large living area – for our family and to be able to entertain large groups. Ours now has a hard time fitting 10 people.

  • Amanda says:

    We looked for potential more than final product because my husband is very handy (and so is his dad). So really EVERYTHING was negotiable in a way (except price), and we have had a lot of fun fixing up a property that used to be a rental home. Here are three things we GAVE UP that we will fix in the future or wait until next time:

    1) Garage- we never had one while renting, so we don’t miss it too much, plus our house has a shed for all the yard equipment.
    2) Deck- my husband could build one, but we have to save up because lumber is still pricey.
    3)Front porch- I grew up in a Victorian home with a swing on the porch, so I told hubby this was non-negotiable. But, when it came down to it, I had to sacrifice and settle for a front stoop.

  • Tiffany says:

    1. Certain Square Footage and Price per that square footage. For us it was 2600+ and we found a nice 3300 for an awesome deal.
    2. Location!! There are just some places you just don’t want your kids to grow up in.
    3. One Story. (I hated running up and down the stairs with a 7 month old and being pregnant!)
    Also, Our home we sold look terrible in photos. It was a very nice home, it just wasn’t photogenic 🙂 So don’t bypass Every ugly photo home.
    good luck! and Enjoy the process for what it is

  • We just bought our first home.. it WAS hard and time consuming!

    For our next house, we MUST ABSOLUTELY HAVE TO have a good size yard. No exceptions on that for us! 🙂

  • Kelly says:

    My next home will be our retire home. The three things that are important to me are:
    location – Iwant to be central located, near all my children
    basement apartment – so when my children visit that they have their own space
    nice outdoor space

  • Mona says:

    A foyer and a mudroom for sure! I don’t like walking into the living room right from the front door and not having a welcoming spot to take your coat and shoes off. Mudrooms help the contain shoes/gear/dirt from spreading to other rooms and keep things handy when you’re running out the door. My third need is an attached garage to keep my car warm in our cold Minnesota winters and it’s easier with groceries and kids too.

  • Mary says:

    Location, Price, Square footage of lot. We love central air and enough room between us and the neighbors to throw a ball.
    Tornado sirens a plus, and if theres a septic tank we are out. Everything else we can fix to suit us. We are getting ready to move right now, love our home but the neighborhood has gone downhill. So we are all sucking it up to buy a smaller home in better hood.

  • Jenna says:

    #1. Location — Speaking from experience this is of major importance, your children will grow up with like minds of those they live around.

    #2. Insulation –Again speaking from experience we have zero in our current home and it is a major problem!

    #3. Washer and Dryer Room not just a closet

    #4. Would have to be at least 1.5 bathrooms.

  • Kelsey says:

    Three things I wish would have been on my list:

    1) Pantry
    2) Ample linen closet (4″ deep shelves are not cutting it)
    2) Our house faces the north and the driveway is alway icy in the winter in comparison with our old house that faced the west and melted right away

  • Beth says:

    We just closed on our first house March 12th! I agree it is more work than I ever imagined! Our 3 non-negotiables were: 3 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, and a large kitchen! We got all of those plus nearly everything we had on our dream list!! Keep looking your perfect house is out there! We lost 3 houses, countless hours and a few thousand dollars before we found our home! But I couldn’t be happier in the end. Now if I could just find the time to finish unpacking all of the boxes! 🙂

  • Val says:

    This isn’t really a “must have” list but more like a “keep in mind” list. For starters, first time home buyers have a lot of power. We were able to knock a lot of money off the asking price since our offer wasn’t contingent on us selling a home. Secondly, people’s homes are often like a favorite pet that you need to rehouse. We included an note with our offer saying how we were newlyweds and how we could see ourselves raising our kids and spending the rest of our lives in their home, which is all true. We’ve been here 10 years and don’t see ourselves moving anytime soon. Happy House Hunting!

  • Erin says:

    I’m cheating by using general terms in order to get more than 3!

    1. Location: a neighborhood with a lot of kids and in a great school district.
    2. Storage: large kitchen with a lot of cabinets and large closets in the bedrooms
    3. Large yard: we want enough room for the kids to really be able to run around (maybe put in a pool), plus have room for a workshop so my husband can work on his muscle cars.

    • Erin says:


      OH – I forgot, there is one more (I wouldn’t call this non-negotiable, but it would really be great!)…

      Besides the 3 bedrooms for my husband and me, our son and our daughter, we’d really love to have an office and a play room.

      I agree with the person above that it would be great to not have the toys in their bedroom and to get them out of the living room.

  • Jennifer says:

    Keep up with new listings. We’ve bought two houses, both within the first week they were listed and both had other offers to buy within that same week. We had done a lot of shopping (mostly online) and knew a good deal when we saw it. Our current home only had 1 picture (since it was a new listing), but I’m so glad I didn’t wait for the pictures to show up online!

    Three non-negotiables:
    1) 3-5 acres with very minimal deed restrictions — we wanted plenty of room for orchard, garden, animals, whatever
    2) 4 (bed)rooms — 3 for sleeping + one for work-at-home husband’s office
    3) room for a chest freezer — unfortunately, this didn’t exactly happen since we found a house meeting #1 and #2 at a great price in a great location, but I ditched my clothes dryer in favor of the freezer 🙂

  • Gina says:

    For our family, we had to have:
    1- one-story house
    2- all of the bedrooms on the same side of the house. We want our kids close by. We really dislike layouts that have the master on one side and all of the other bedrooms on the other.
    3- on a bit of land

    We’re looking right now, or very well may build if we find land (w/o a house) that we like. 🙂

  • Aubrey says:

    House hunting is SOOOOO much work! I hope you find something you love! We have almost identical priorities to you, three bedrooms on the main floor, big kitchen, and a nice yard. Oh, and not a bazillion dollars 🙂

  • My hubby works for a luxury homebuilder, we’ve owned several homes (including a very successful flip), & we eat, sleep, & breath real estate.

    1) Location. You can change everything else.

    2) Schools. Our home is in a very exclusive community with a great school district. I didn’t think to check out the actual schools we’re assigned to. They’re terrible. Horrible. So bad we are now going to have to pay for private. So yeah…schools are a biggie.

    3) Location & schools. I can’t stress this enough!

    Good luck!

  • Tammy L says:

    Having just finished CAR shopping for a while, I can only imagine how time-consuming HOUSE hunting is!! 🙂

    I one MUST-HAVE for our next house (rental though it be!): a back yard for the kids to run around in. Okay, it’s not a must-have really… if I had to compromise that I would say at least living on a bottom-floor apartment so they can run in the house and not bother neighbors!! 🙂

    My one other “like to have” would be a place for a kitchen table that isn’t carpeted. Whether it’s an eat-in kitchen or a dining area, I am so tired of carpet under our kitchen table!!! 🙂

  • Noah says:

    When we were looking for our house I found that I usually could tell if I would like the house just by the pictures online. I was always right. And fortunately, we found the right one.

    My non-negotiables were:

    – big kitchen
    – quiet street (we ended up on a culs-de-sac – busy streets and children scare me and I wanted somewhere for them to ride their bikes)
    – 2 bathrooms (and one off of the master)

    If I had to do it again, I’d want a one-story home as well. I HATE the stairs with young kids.

  • Joann says:

    We just bought our first house a year ago. God gave us a brand-new home and we paid just above building cost! I still can’t believe it… and it met our 3 requirements:

    1) 2 bathrooms
    2) 3 bedrooms on the same level
    3) a back yard

  • Erica says:

    I had some top priorities on my list and then a bunch of things that I would like to have.

    1) Wanted to LOVE the kitchen, I feel that it makes the house and I knew if I LOVED this area the rest I could learn to love.

    2) Wanted it to be open and new. I love how open our house is even though it is on the small side it’s still super cute and bright.

    3) The entryway. It’s kinda a funny thing but I wanted to have some room at the front of the house that was inviting. I KNEW our house was the one as soon as I walked in and saw a gorgeous niche, french doors, and tons or windows! Then as I walked towards the kitchen I was in love! I still love walking into our house, that has never gone away! To be honest I didn’t even care to look at the bedrooms or the rest of the house! We have small bedrooms but we don’t care we keep everything classy with some nice things and make them look nice. Good Luck!

  • Kristy says:

    Laundry on the same floor as the bedrooms
    Large basement to run my daycare in, so we can actually have part of our home to ourselves!
    Storage, including a large pantry in the kitchen.

  • Kim says:

    A home has to be under contract by April 30 (and close by June 30) for the $8,000 first-time homebuyer’s tax credit. Tax credit = actual money. That’s alot of money! Hope you find a home fast! 😉

  • 1. FLAT backyard with a fence my kids can play in! Our yard now sits on a 40 degree angle!

    2. A big master bathtub – Mama time is very important!

    3. Built after the year 2000 – we are tired of having a fixer, we want to move in and relax!

    Most important is number one though!

  • Jen Feinberg says:

    I have been curious if you started house hunting. I just moved into our new home this past weekend. We sold a home and bought a new one. I actually loved the process (all but keeping the house neat as a pin for showings!) I love looking at homes and watching what comes on the market.

    I loved house hunting so much that I am currently taking a course to eventually get my real estate license! I see you will talk about the importance of a good realtor, and I CANNOT AGREE MORE. I got many recommendations and actually met with 3 realtors before I found one that was a terrific match. I wasn’t disappointed!

    My 3 must haves in my home:

    1.) School district – wanted to keep my children in their current schools.

    2.) 4 bedrooms – a must

    3.) Master bathroom – i have shared 1 bathroom with my kids and hubby for 11 years. I wasn’t compromising!

    Good luck and have fun!

  • Christina says:

    We bought our first house several months ago. When we first started looking the only criteria we had were:

    1) No HOA. I want to own my home and own the right to do what I want with it. 2) No busy streets. 3) No swimming pool.

    After looking around though I developed three other things which were very important:

    1) Three bedrooms on one floor. My children are too young to be in the basement by themselves. 2) At least two bathrooms. 3) A yard big enough for a sandbox, swingset, garden, clothesline, and with enough grass left over for a decent play area.

  • Rae says:

    I loved house hunting 🙂

    I’m not picky on floor plan or number of bathrooms, etc so my 3 non-negotiables:
    1- Location. Even if you don’t have kids (or homeschool), being in a good school district is important if you are ever planning to sell someday.

    2- Storage. Closets. Lots of them. ‘nough said. 😛

    3-2 car garage.

  • Aria says:

    I loved house hunting so much that I became a realtor and I love my job. I love reading your tips and advice they are very helpful for my family. Being a SAHM we need all the tips we can get to being frugal. Well I hope you are working with a realtor that may ease some of the frustration you and your husband are dealing with. That is our job to do all the hunting. Thanks again Take care.

  • Ginny says:

    We have owned three houses in our 26 years of marriage. We built our current home, after determining there was nothing on the market that met our needs. That is an experience I am not anxious to repeat!

    My top three –

    1 – first floor laundry
    2 – master bathroom
    3 – kitchen with ample cupboard and counter space AND a large pantry.

  • Angel says:

    1. Big grassy backyard w/room for a large garden.
    2. 3/2
    3. Location.

  • Claire in CA, USA says:

    Having settled on every single thing I wanted in a house when we bought this one 16 years ago, I now have a non-negotiable list a mile long. 🙂 However, if I had to look today, this what I’d want:

    1) More than one bathroom.
    2) At least four bedrooms.
    3) Decent-sized kitchen with granite counter tops (NO TILE).
    4) At least one fireplace.
    5) Separate laundry room.

    Okay, gotta stop, or I’ll take up all your bandwidth. 🙂

  • shj says:

    Everyone I know who has bought a three bedroom home later regrets that she didn’t buy a home with four bedrooms instead.

  • cat says:

    -large laundry/mudd room
    -large open kitchen w/ a island— this tends to be where everone will hang out so the more space the better.
    -large garage

  • stephanie says:

    YOu never really know a house until you live in it. However, you can narrow down those features even more. I huge factor is size: 1200, 1800, etc. W are in our 3rd home, so we have had the fun of looking. It can be great or a huge pain. After a few viewings, you will know just by walking in the door & not have to go any further. Schedule all your viewings together in a 3 hour block. Much easier. Work with a realtor, that will help you narrow things down even further. Plus they can make all the appointments & free up your time. Have fun & enjoy the process you have worked hard to reap this reward.

  • JenT says:

    I love househunting! It’s an adventure and it’s kind of fun trying to figure out what can go where…

    This is our 3rd house since we’ve been married. I have more than 3 non-negotiables, but here are the top:
    – large back yard (preferably in a neighborhood with children around!)
    – attached 2 car garage that my suburban can fit into
    – large, open kitchen for fun gatherings – has to be a good lay-out for entertaining. Our current kitchen is not a great layout for someone that likes to cook – the next house will have a better lay-out!
    – we have homeschooled for 7 years and continue to do so, but a good school district is a MUST for re-sale purposes at least.
    – 4 bedrooms and a two bathrooms

    Enjoy the hunt! Our kids love househunting!

  • Helene says:

    1. attached garage (I live in the Chicago suburbs-living on a street with apartments across and in winter-parking is awful-btw NO apartments anywhere near!)
    2. laundry on main floor or near bedrooms if two story. Laundry chutes are great but there’s nothing to aim it all back up)
    3. Kid-filled neighborhood-who knew I’d get custody of my now 4 year old grandson and all the kids around here would be grown making this block more of a retirement block. Also, backyard with fence, pond and deck 🙂 My backyard is great but has none of those.
    Also walking distance to a bus line for those times when there is no car due to repairs etc. If you are going to be there for years adaptability to potential life situations. I have severe arthritis. Walking 6 blocks in any of three ways to a bus line is not fun in winter.
    Location-also want the better areas/schools for my grandson but even that is not foolproof now.

  • Julie says:

    1 – Big kitchen with plenty of cupboards (we have so little cupboard space in our house)
    2 – lots of closet space – tired of having tiny closets where clothes are all scrunched up!
    3 – 3 bedrooms (one with master bath)
    4 – 2 car carage

  • michelle says:

    Ahh this is about to be us!
    Location: close enough to family, church and husbands job
    2 (preferably 2.5) bathrooms
    nice kitchen
    closet space!!!!
    (would love a playroom!)

  • Cyndi Lewis says:

    1. Location- in the country- no suburbs or housing developements.

    2. Land- at least 1 acre, more is better.

    3. 4 bedrooms and 2 toilets. We need one for myself and husband, one for my son, one for our two older girls (13 and 11), and one for our two younger girls (5 and 1 1/2). We could put all the girls together in one room if we really had to. Also with 7 of us two toilets (not necessarily full bathrooms) would be really good. The house we rent now only has one and there are too many times there is someone dancing outside the door while the room is occupied by another.

  • Jennifer says:

    We just did this 3 years ago, so this one is easy for me.

    1 – 4 bedrooms
    2 – a kitchen large enough for the 6 of us as well as our 6 foot table – without us having to knock down walls to make it happen
    3 – a large yard with lots of trees

    We looked at 70 or so houses, but finally found the almost perfect one. The looking and the waiting will be worth it in the end.

  • Stacie says:

    Here’s my punch list:
    1. Location. It must be near interstates, shopping and church. The house cannot be in the middle of the subdivision so I have to drive in circles over speed bumps for 10 minutes to get out of the neighborhood.
    2. The lot MUST BE FLAT! Our vertical front yard has been such a pain. When it sleets, we cannot park our cars in the garage because the hill is too steep and slick.
    3. One story home. No stairs.

  • Katherine says:

    4 bedrooms, 3 bathrooms and a basement have always been our criteria. Next time around I’d like for one of those bathrooms to be a nice master bath.

  • Courtney says:

    This thread really makes you think about what’s important to you! I’m never moving as this house is perfect for us but some things that would really put it over the top:
    -more than one bathroom
    -2 car garage (or 3 but I won’t be greedy)
    -open concept for entertaining

  • Renee says:

    Tracey, Crystal is taking the time to share her experiences on HER blog- go somewhere else if you want to criticize. The blog is about building one another up, not tearing each other down!

  • Melissa says:

    We are in the process of selling our current home and buying. We have 6 in our family. Our top three:

    1. land; 5 or more acres
    2. large kitchen with dishwasher (my husbands wish for me!)
    3. more than 1 bathroom

  • Stacy says:

    a huge pantry
    a basement for storage
    and no neighbors on parole who steal from you and never get sent back to jail!! Seriously this is my nightmare right now, its a plus to have good neighbors-we have always had bad neighbors and when you try to be a decent person and respect the neighbor relationship and its not returned a big downer!

    • Merrilee says:

      @Stacy, I hear you on the neighbors! I can relate.

    • Chelsea says:


      Yes this is a good one! All our neighbors are older than us and adore our children, watch out for them and generally keep an eye on the neighborhood without having to be asked. Its awesome! I will miss this part terribly when we move. But we live in a small town so maybe its more prevalent here.

  • Jillbert says:

    My three features? Hmmmm….
    1. Kitchen — I love to cook & entertain so it has to be open. I don’t require large but do require functional.
    2. Yard — I need a decent amount of green space around the house without highway sounds (been there).
    3. Location — good town, solid schools, friendly neighborhood

    Every home we’ve had (three), we’ve had to renovate in some manner — if the house has good “bones”, I have no problem figuring out what to fix to make it ours.

  • Julie says:

    I love our home now, but I didn’t choose it. My husband already lived here when we married. Our long-range plan is to downsize before we get “old” as our home and property will become difficult to maintain as we get older.
    If we were looking for a home right now, though, I think our family’s requests would be
    1. Room to run (inside — maybe a playroom or long hallway — and out)
    2. Space for a garden and maybe some fruit trees
    3. A basement for storage or for a family/play room
    4. A two-car garage
    5. A kitchen with adequate counter space
    6. More than one bathroom

  • Precious says:

    We just closed on the 4th new home that we have had built in 42 years.
    Our experience has taught us and we put in this house:

    1) A Laundry Room 2 ft. from our bedroom

    2) A large functional kitchen – by functional I mean that all the appliances and the sink are in a triangle so you don’t have to take more than a few steps to get to each one.

    3) An open floor plan in the kitchen, dining room and great room or living area

    Enjoy the thrill of the hunt!

  • Heather C says:

    We’re house-hunting right now, but it’s difficult because we’re looking in a totally different state, so we have to be *really* picky because we can’t very well make 5 different trips to look at homes with 3 small children. And my “must have” list is totally different from yours:
    1) At least 2.5 acres (I’d rather have closer to 5).
    2) Location: privacy, away from big road, within 25 minutes of shopping, etc
    3) Must have a basement.

    I have tons of other things I’d like to have (laundry room, for instance), but none of them are absolutely necessary as long as I can have the 3 above.

  • Carrie says:

    When we were looking for our house 9 years ago, we had our own list of non-negotiables:
    1) Two bathrooms
    2) All brick construction
    3) Fireplace
    4) Hardwood floors
    5) Central Heat/Air
    6) Full, stand-up basement that hubby could use for a workshop
    On top of that, we were also looking for an older home (1900 – 1940’s) that had a lot of character and that needed some TLC. When we opened the front door of this house we felt like we were HOME. The house was built in 1940, it had hardwood floors, a full basement (a surprising find in a house that old in our area), and a brick exterior. What it DIDN’T have was the other “must haves” on our list: no second bathroom, no fireplace, and no central H/AC. It didn’t matter…we knew it was OURS. In the 9 years since we purchased the house we have added central H/AC and not just one, but two more bathrooms. No fireplace, but it’s in the plans for “someday”. Our list kept us from even looking at a lot of houses, but when a house is right, even if it doesn’t have everything on your list, you just know it. Happy House Hunting! Hope you are successful in finding your list too!! 🙂

  • Merrilee says:

    1. Yard for the kids to play safely and for the vegetable garden.
    2. Good school district. (Even if you homeschool, a decent school district adds value to your investment for future re-sale needs.)
    3. Conveniently located near grocery store–even walking distance.
    (Aside from the basic bedroom numbers, all the other stuff can be re-modeled or configured to your liking. Once the inside of the house is as you like it, you still have to deal with living in the neighborhood–so location is always the biggest factor.)

  • robin says:

    I have to confess, when I saw the pics of our house, I was far from impressed. But we decided since we wanted to live in a specific small community, we would look at everything available that had at least 3 bedrooms and a basement or garage. My favorite houses from looking at the online pics all stunk in person, then when we saw this house from the street, we were in awe. The previous owners just had horrible taste and took bad pics lol. We loved it from the first viewing and it was 50 grand under budget!

  • Heather says:

    We just bought our 3rd home this past July, 7th we have lived in (military). I had lots of I want this and not that kind of things. We started house hunting almost a year before our move, from Hawaii! Looking to buy on the East coast. That was difficult!
    We wanted 4 bedrooms with a bonus room/sunroom/ frog/second den, whatever you call it. I wanted an additional room for the kids to claim. I wanted at least a half acre of land. We were so tired of living on top of people especially after being packed in close in Hawaii. I wanted a good price and I wanted it not to be all perfect. I wanted to make it our own myself. My husbands only request beyond the above was that we had two seperate sinks in the master bath completely unconnected. He didn’t want to share with me. Apparenly I am not so tidy with all the bathroom products!

  • Alison says:

    Fun post 🙂
    We had our house built last summer, I flew out here one weekend in order to find would could possibly our retirement home, we’re military and after living in over 15 different homes we knew what we didn’t want!!
    This was our criteria.
    1. Location based on school district, there was absolutely no compromising on this, even though we plan to stay here you never know what the future holds and we may have to sell it at some point.
    2. 4 bedrooms and 3 bathrooms.
    3. Open floor plan with a central kitchen.
    It may sound silly but if a house didn’t have 3 bathrooms I wouldn’t look at it so I can totally relate to you not wanting to look at a house if you don’t like the picture.

  • Jo Marie says:

    1) A basement – some extra space to run my ebay business 🙂
    2) More than one bathroom
    3) Fireplace – I don’t really care about this, but my husband really wants one!

  • Laura says:

    1. Laundry Room on the Second Floor over the garage – A MUST
    2. Large Kitchen, lots of fun family moments happen here.
    3. Large Garage, some bi-laws prohibit storage sheds, so you need somewhere to keep all of the outside stuff.

  • Denise C. says:

    My husband and I bought our second home last fall. My top priorities are:

    1. Good sized kitchen (I am an avid cook and baker.)
    2. At least 3 bedrooms (Ours, our son’s, and our daughter’s).
    3. Possibly a bathroom on the main floor (Powder rooms are fine, it is quick and easy for the kids to get into.)
    4. Possibility of a backyard. (We have a dog, and room for the kids to play.

    My main focus point is the kitchen. If the kitchen works for me, I can work around every other room in the house. We were extremely fortunate enough to get lots more with the townhouse we purchased.

    Happy House Hunting!

  • Marla says:

    I disagree with you on #3 Pictures. Yes there needs to be pictures posted. I would skip over any listings that didn’t have pictures of at least the outside of the house. If I don’t like the outside, there’s no point in looking. But some realtors have no clue how to take photos or some home owners choose to paint the rooms all crazy colors and have them overloaded with furniture. If you saw the pictures that were posted on the MLS of the house we bought, you would have probably run away. It’s not so much the Wow factor as in what can I do with this.

    Our must list for this house would be very different than one if we were house hunting today. But this was are original must have list:
    1. A 1/2 bath. Remember we were looking at homes built in the 40s and 50s if not earlier and a 1/2 bath was a luxury.
    2. Hardwood floors or decent shape hardwood floors under carpeting. We both have allergies and having carpet would be a nightmare for us.
    3. 3 bedrooms or 2 with an additional room. You can’t call it a bedroom without a closet even though you know it’s meant to be a bedroom. That room would be a office.
    4. A basement that is at least partially finishable. Again we are looking at older homes and some basements were not made to be usable space.

  • Christina says:

    Just three? That’s hard for me . . . my husband was a homebuilder before the crash, and he built our house – 100% custom. But I’d say:
    -Large kitchen
    -Solid-surface floors on the first level (with a dog and toddler, those hardwoods have been handier than I ever imagined)
    -5 bedrooms or 4 + basement; currently we have 5 + office + basement; we both have home offices, and need to keep more paperwork than would fit in a dresser drawer

  • Christina says:

    Oh, I do agree about pictures. If someone doesn’t take the time to post photos of WHATEVER they’re selling, I won’t give it the time of day – be it a $5 toy or a house.

  • lee says:

    decent size kitchen

  • Sarah says:

    No tile—way too hard to clean
    BIG pantry (or another area to store your stockpile!)
    a bathroom on the main floor (just convenient for all)
    2 car garage (we didn’t want to spend all our time moving cars around if one person was parked behind the other)

  • charity says:

    A nice sized kitchen cause I love to cook, 2 bathrooms cause one with 5 people will just not cut it and 3 bedrooms or more. I want a nice big backyard as well.

  • Brenda says:

    My top 3 would be…
    1)Location-nice neighborhood, good school district (even if you are only planning to homeschool, this is important because if you need to sell later, many people have this as a priority so it’s important). This is something a realtor should be able to help with–there are websites that evaluate & “grade” schools for their quality of education)
    2)Kitchen & pantry (or some type of storage for a small stockpile)-I cook every day, almost every meal, so this is important to me
    3)Attached garage-this is great with little kids, especially if you are corraling them from the house to the vehicle or carrying things in & out. It’s also nice in the winter when there’s 2 feet of snow, not having to shovel a path to a garage away from the house (or having to scrape off a car covered in snow)
    4)this is a luxury, but I do love the attached master bath & would absolutely put this on the WANT list :o)
    5)central air-many newer homes have this, but having purchased our first home WITHOUT central air, I would put this one on the NEED list

  • charlene says:

    That is easy since are house is so small. 1. I would love to have another bathroom. sharing with 3 boys just sucks. 2. more living space. so i can have friends over and not worry about everyone being srunched in. 3. I would love a garage. so i had room for the kids bikes and a freezer.

  • Alison says:

    Big Kitchen
    Open Floor Plan (i.e., kitchen is open to the main living area)

  • Chelsea says:

    My priorities are a certain way right now because of having small children, and we are currently trying to sell our home as we look at our buying options. Its difficult to stay on your toes right now in selling your home, especially with kids, because buyers are SO picky! So for that reason alone we have not even scheduled a showing to see potential homes, because I don’t want to waste the seller’s time if we can’t make an offer right away. I know firsthand how it feels to have to run around cleaning up your home, then get your family and pets out for an hour.

    My big three are:

    – Location: good school system, convenient to places we frequent often like grocery stores/Target, close to our church, parks/playgrounds nearby, and close to grandparents.

    – Master bathroom. Enough said!! It doesn’t have to be fancy or have a bunch of upgrades, but there must be lots of room.

    – Space to run around in the yard for the kids (and dog). We spend oodles of time outside in our yard, so that is a must for us.

    To be honest, I wouldn’t really care if the inside of the house was run-down or out-of-date, as long as it was structurally sound and had potential for improvement!

    Good luck Crystal! I’m sure you’ll find something great that works for your family!

  • Katie says:

    I don’t think Tracey is moaning . Househunting is a nightmare; especially if you don’t have family around, limited finance, working full-time and trying schedule it in with everything else. I had to house hunt on my own with a baby as our rental house had been sold!!

  • A tiny kitchen is just something I am not willing to negotiate on. I spend SO MUCH time in here that I’d go crazy if it were a tight space where I was constantly bumpping into stuff/people. I like open because that makes it feel even bigger vs closed off. I have a tiny pantry, especially for my kitchen size, so next time I’d definitely keep that in mind.

    Laundry on the same floor as bedrooms. We have bedrooms and laundry all upstairs and everyone comments how they wish their laundry was on the same floor. It definitely makes it easier! I would have prefered a one story, but that didn’t happen this time around.

    I wouldn’t have thought of this before, but now as a career food blogger, lighting will definitely be a huge factor in purchasing another home should we move. I am lucky to have 7 windows + a sliding glass door in my kitchen/breakfast/family room area. And the afternoon through evening sun is on this side of the house. It’s invaluable for me getting great pictures.

    A nice sized backyard for the kids is also pretty important to me.

  • Marcy says:

    My top 3:

    1) A large garage
    2) A safe back yard for kids
    3) A master bedroom on the same floor as the kids bedrooms

    I could go on for days, but these are the main 3 things that I don’t care for in our current home.

    Best of luck with your search! 🙂

  • Tara says:

    1. 5+ acres (that eliminated quite a bit)
    2. 4 bedrooms or room to expand (we found a daylight basement that we ended up finishing! It was perfect!)
    3. Master Bedroom with walk in closet & bathroom

  • anne says:

    When we were looking for a new home four years ago we both new what we wanted.After living in our previous home for 14 years.Number one on my list was layout.I wanted to be able to walk in from our attached garage into a mud room/laundry room and then right into the kitchen.After years of going through our laundry room into the family room and then kitchen when bringing in groceries this was very important to me.I love my house now it is so convenient for bringing in groceries.Second was a big kitchen I love our kitchen.I never thought I would want an island.But we have one and I LOVE it.Not only do we bake on there,but we have stools and eat there, and my Daughter loves to do her homework or fun projects there.My kitchen also has a desk which was not on my list but glad I have it.Great place for my laptop and all the Mom things I do helps keep my organized.Third on my list was a den.We did not have this and so nice to have one now.And fourth was a bigger bedroom for my daughter.Hers is quite large after having such a small room that her bed was about the only furniture we could fit in it.Very nice to have large rooms for kids.They need there space too.And the last on my list was a three car garage.It is nice to have to space to store the lawn mower,bikes and all those fun things.It is pretty tight when you only have a two car garage.Good luck with your house hunting.It is time consuming.But just know in the end you will get what you want and be very happy 🙂

  • Ashlee says:

    We are years and years away from owning our own home. But some weekends we like to drive around different neighborhoods and “dream” about what houses we will someday want. My top three are:
    1- Good schools (baby is only 8 months, but they grow up fast!)
    2- Off street parking (we are looking to stay in the city, so this is a big one for me)
    3- A yard (even a small one)

  • Jeannine says:

    My # cannot do without is, “IS IT GOD’S WILL?”Right now this is my family’s criteria for selecting a home. The physical features of the home are important especially with a growing family, but I am sure Jesus is very interested in where He places us.

  • Michelle says:

    1 – mud room. We redid ours, it is the first room off of our entrance from the garage (the main entrance our family uses) to include tons of storage for all six of us, stacking washer and dryer and LOTS of cupboards for things like toilet paper, paper towels, cleaning supplies, bulk food storage, lightbulbs. I LOVE it – everyone had a place for their things. Not that they always get it there.

    2 – wood burning fire place. We built our house and we installed a wood burning fire place that is enclosed in glass, so it is sort of like a stove. We also put a fan into the vent above it to help the heat get all over the house. We save hundreds on heating each year by supplementing with wood, which we get for free from friends’ downed trees. In the milder months, we don’t use our furnace at all. This year it was only on Jan and Feb and we live in MN.

    3 – a separate pantry in/near the kitchen. We don’t have this, but I’d love it!

  • Angela says:

    We actually purchased our current home without me ever stepping foot in it. I was living about 3 hours away at the time with a newborn. I had seen it on-line, my husband looked at it, we had a brief phone call and we made an offer. I actually didn’t physically see the house until just before the inspection. The pictures on-line were what attracted us to the house.

    Since this was actually our 3rd house, I had a lot of criteria in mind when buying. Our must haves were —
    1. Attached 2 car garage (very cold climate here with lots of snow)
    2. Municipal water and sewer (I’m in Urban Planning and new the value of this, especially in this area)
    3. Minimum of 3 bedrooms
    4. Ideally, a master bath attached to the master bedroom.

    There were a few other things that were high on the list – big kitchen, flat driveway (i.e., not on a hill), decent yard for playing. We came from different back grounds on 2-story vs. ranch, so we looked at both.

    Here’s a post I did on our housing adventure…

    Congrats and good luck!

  • Linda in FL says:

    1. Power Company – there is a huge difference in the rates between the two power companies in our city (Progress Energy $$$$ and a local co-op).

    2. Location – close to hubby’s work

    3. 4 bedrooms, 3 bathrooms

  • Olathe Mom says:

    We usually take our kids house-hunting! 🙂 In fact, we’ve found that having them with us helps us “note” things we might not have, otherwise! If you get to the final few, take the kids and prepare to be surprised! (And yes, with four children, it is a complete wild rumpus.:) )

    We were surprised on one early house hunting expedition when the realtor’s son (who happened to be with us) happened to be on the “level” where he noticed the NINE cat doors in one home. Amen for 3 ft. tall. 🙂

  • Sheila says:

    Its hard to narrow it down to just 3, but my top 3 would be:

    1) Minimum of 3 bedrooms on the main floor (we have 5 kids, so it would be nice to someday have a house with more than that)

    2) 2 car garage (although now with all the kids’ bikes and such, a 3 car would be awesome someday!)

    3) full basement … it doubles your living space, especially if its finished… and of course you need a place to go every time those darn tornado sirens go off!

    We’ve been blessed to have that with both of the houses we’ve lived in… but we wouldn’t have had it in our starter home if we had seen a picture of the house online first… at first glance we thought it was UGLY! but since we were there and they had just reduced the asking price that morning we went inside to take a look… we had to look beneath the paint colors and flooring to realize that the layout would work for us. During our 6 years in the house we covered up the exterior chocolate brown paint with a more appealing light tan, we painted over all of the bubblegum pink walls with neutral color inside, and we pulled up the carpet to expose the gorgeous hardwood floors. When we bought the house it had been on the market for 3 months… when we went to sell it (For sale by owner no less)… We accepted an offer on our 2nd day on the market!

    extending our requirement list we also require: a short or cul-de-sac street… our first house the kids could never play in the front yard b/c of the amount of traffic, a fenced in back yard, and a minimum of 2 bathrooms!

  • Lisa says:

    I could not stop at just 3, but top of the list is it must have a good inspection!! I know how you do your homework so I’m sure you’ve been educated on this already. An inspection is out of your pocket and not required even if you are taking out a mortgage. But SO worth it!! Many people mistake the appraisal for the inspection. They are completely different. No inspection = not knowing about potential problems. The appraisal only tells you the value of the house. The inspection will let you know if there are electrical, plumbing, roofing (etc) issues. I’m continually surprised that many people pass over an inspection. I don’t want pretty cabinets if they are going to fall off the walls due to a bad foundation!

  • Carissa says:

    1. A fenced backyard with the kitchen window big enough to watch the kids from while working in the kitchen.
    2. Functional kitchen. (counterspace, cupboard space, and the ability to see the kids if I am in the kitchen and they are sitting at the table.)
    3. Master bathroom.

    Our town is pretty small so any house with that criteria would be in a good location. I have heard that location IS the top three.

  • colleen says:

    I would choose an attached garage, a good school district and a large back yard.

  • Kelly says:

    We have bought 3 homes in 8 years of marriage and the one thing we have learned is pictures on the internet can be deceiving, don’t let them rule out a house for you! Our 3 must haves with 2 young boys:
    1. Master bathroom
    2. Bedrooms all on one level
    3. A basement

  • Lori says:

    I am a mother with six children all of whom are grown or almost and one other point is a flat paved driveway. My daughter has four small children 8 and under and spends many days at my home so her children can play because her drive way is sloped and unpaved. You will give your children the opportunity to use their great imaginations when they spend countless hours playing outdoors. You may also want to consider a wooded area next to your home. Again, my children all played in the “woods” just like I did as a child and loved it. During the summer months I rarely had to find things for my kids to do outdoors. Happy house hunting. PS I was a real estate agent prior to my marriage and becoming a full time mom.

  • Sandy says:

    Three years ago we moved out-of-state, and our former home had sold in 11 days. We had 1 week while visiting our new area to find a home! Priorities were:
    Location – close to the Bible college my daughter was going to be attending and near a good church. God’s provision – 6 minutes from school; 10 minutes from church. (We traveled 25 minutes to church from our former home, so this is a blessing!)

    Hardwood floors – because of allergies and upkeep (they are so easy to clean!) God’s provision – He provided a new home where bedrooms were going to be carpeted, but hadn’t been completed yet. We bargained with the builder – instead of a deck in the backyard (which was his standard item), we got the hardwood! The deck would have made the yard more useable, but we aren’t big outdoor people (we’re in the south and it gets hot!) However – a screened porch is a dream for someday!!

    Open floor plan -We planned on having college students over and wanted room to expand our dining area. God’s provision – An open dining/living room area that’s open to the kitchen, as well. We have had up to 30 people for dinner!

    This is not a huge home – 1200 sq. ft., no basement. But God provided so much more than I would have dreamed! First floor laundry – it is nice! A 2nd bathroom off the master bedroom and a dishwasher! And a 1-1/2 car garage! We had lived in an 850 sq. ft. home (with half of the basement finished) with 1 bath and no dishwasher, no garage…with 4 children! (And it was fine!) Now we are down to just 2 (21 y.o.) and it feels like I have a castle! God provides so wonderfully!

  • Maria says:

    I am selling my home and buying one right now. By Gods good graces we have found our dream home and sold ours too. We are a few weeks away from closing on both of our homes and have learned quite a lot. DON’T settle keep looking and you will know when you found it. My families deal breakers were yard size and location, location, location and of course living space! I wish you a lot of luck.

    Maria Kalina 🙂

  • Marcie says:

    Who the neighbors are is the most important thing on my list. We have lived by some people that were very late night noisy people. Teenagers outside past 11:00 p.m. and we had a newborn so we actually moved. Rude neighbors are a deal-breaker.

    Location is very important as both an investment and to cut commute time.

    Floorplan is number 3 for me. Aesthetically and emotionally there has to be a “feeling” to a home that I am looking for.

  • Abbygail says:

    A bi-level with most of the “living” space on the same floor, rural area, and a large kitchen.

  • trisha says:

    There’s six in this family….so our bedrooms wish have upped (thus, we’re adding on…again–went from 2 bed to 3 bed and now adding 2 more bedrooms but one of the old ones will become pantry/game/play room). Since we live way out in the rural country and even if we moved to the small town nearby, there’s only one school district. This would play big role if we were looking in a larger area/city.

    My must haves
    1. STORAGE…lots of it, pantry, kitchen, closets, everywhere.
    2. At least 4 bed/2 bath and an office (even if it’s super tiny)..or being able to add on.
    3. Nice big open kitchen.

    Do I have to stop at 3? Separate laundry room w/space for sorting clothes. Central heat and air. If in town, probably a fenced yard.

    My hubbies
    1. Out in the country with land (such that neighbors aren’t “right” there), lots of trees and a big barn.
    2. 4 bed/2 bath and office.
    3. Whatever I want 🙂

    When we were looking at building, I wrote down things we liked and didn’t like about the places we lived in. That really helped to incorporate features or find solutions for the things we didn’t like into our planning.

    We looked at a gazillion houses for our first house. We mainly used a realtor and let her do the vast majority of the narrowing down to our specifications and then we would look at several houses at once. Big timesaver. We enjoyed looking at houses, envisioning how we would layout our stuff—then again that was before we had kids to lug around or find babysitters.

  • christina says:

    We’re looking at buying in the next few years. I’ll admit I’m picky about this topic.

    1. School district. I HATE the one we are in now and the idea of homeschooling gives me the geebies. I couldn’t effectively teach my own kids for anything. I want my children in a better district.

    2. A large kitchen, preferably open to the living area with a bar or island separating them. We’ve had this set-up in two of of the 4 homes we’ve lived in and it’s so much more convenient to entertaining and just being with family. I hate being in our current kitchen, much as I love to cook, because it feels so cut off from everyone else when they are in the living area and it’s just me puttering about the kitchen to feed our lot.

    3. Large, but low maintenance, yard; backyard fenced in. I want lots of space but it needs to be easy to keep tidy. A few flowering bushes that are easy to keep trimmed at most in addition to the trees. I’m not a green thumb.

    4. At least 4 bedrooms and a bonus room that can be used for a library/home office. There is nothing I love more than stacks and stacks of books. They are at current over taking my bedroom for lack of anywhere to put them. With a bookshelf over flowing, I’ve resorting to stacking them around it, and on the dresser, and most anywhere else I have space. The books need a home.

    5. Well water! There is nothing I hate more than chlorinated public water. The taste is what put me off drinking water to this day. Even though we live in a home with a well now, I still can’t bring myself to drink it unless I’m about to thirst something crazy. Not to mention I have NO desire to pay a water bill. This is also the most easy to work around. I could always have a well dug after purchase if I liked a home that much but I would prefer not to have to because that’s an extra cost I don’t want on top of the house itself.

  • Annie says:

    My family is pretty far from looking at houses, but I love to “window shop” anyway. My three must haves are a Porch – front, back, side, doesn’t matter, I just need a porch. A formal dining room – as a Pastors family, I want to be able to entertain without my guests having to look at my dirty dishes in the sink. And I’d like a little bit of yard, hopefully with some sun so I can grow some veggies. Of course, location is important too!

  • Kim says:

    We’ve moved 6 times in our 11 years of marriage. 3 rentals and 3 homes. The one thing I would love in our current home is a mud room. A family of six has a lot of coats, boots, etc and our garage opens into our kitchen/dining area. Every house seems to teach me what I don’t like more than what I do. But that also changes with what is going on with our family.
    1. Location
    2. lots of space, inside and out – whether large living areas or extra bedrooms, I’m flexible.
    3. 3 bathrooms
    My “dream” list would be too long 🙂 We’ve also bought and fixed up each house and can relate to the desire to walk in and do nothing (as a another comment stated)but also love building up the value of our home with our own sweat.

  • celia says:

    Our non-negotiable things were that the house must be handicap accessible, must have a bathroom and bedroom on the first floor, and must be within our budget. That was it.

    Next time it MUST be in a good school district, must NOT have a flat roof and MUST have a better yard.

    You know, the house we bought looked terrible in the pictures. Dark, gloomy, and icky. But many people won’t look beyond cosmetics and that is how we got so much house for the money.

  • SarahMay says:

    We have our home up for sale and are looking for a new one. Yes, it IS like a part-time job! Thankfully, we have a good realtor and she does a lot of the work.

    Like you said, we’re learning what works for our family… must-haves for us are:
    1. Open floor plan (so I can referee the children while working in the kitchen!)
    2. Attached two-car garage (no more loading three toddlers in the rain and mud, please).
    3. Three bedrooms (we need the space!).

  • Julie Parker says:

    It would be hard to narrow it down to three things, but these would be some of my top desires.

    hardwood floors
    big yard
    big porch

  • When I bought my house the only things I “required” were a fenced-in yard (for my dog) and a bathtub. (This was before much was on-line, or at least before _I_ was looking at everything online.) When I was at my Realtor’s to a) figure out how much I could afford (almost 0 credit history, so it was hard work getting me a loan) and b) see the information sheets about various houses, he showed me one that didn’t have the fenced-in yard. I immediately tossed it into the “no thanks” pile. But when we were out looking, he took me by that one anyway (I think he was curious). When I opened the door, my mind’s eye could see my children (I was single at the time) running up and down the stairs. On closer inspection, it only had shower stalls too (no bath tub). But it was “the one.” No doubt about it. Love at first sight.

    So I made do without a fence or a bathtub (although there _were_ plans for a bath tub eventually that never came to fruition). It was a fabulous house and I loved every minute that I lived there.

    Interestingly, He did that with my husband too (who didn’t fit most of _my_ criteria either).

    I understand that you know what works best for you and your family and that your time is not unlimited, but sometimes God has something for you that doesn’t quite fit what you “know” is best, but that really _is_ BEST.

  • Erin says:

    The three non-negotiables for us are:
    1. A kitchen with a lot of counter space and cabinets and a good layout. We lived in enough places with tiny kitchens unsuited for elaborate meals I liked to cook. However, bigger is not necessarily better! We sold our townhouse before the market crapped out and moved to a beautiful, large rental til we found jobs in the city we wanted to live. The kitchen was huge–too huge. It didn’t have a “work triangle” so cooking was ridiculously inefficient.
    2. Windows! We need lots of natural light. And said windows cannot look into neighboring houses, as they did in our former home in the DC area!
    3. Appropriate layout for our family. We like the ground floor–our “living area”–to flow. No dead-ends for kid and dog to get into trouble!

    By the way, Crystal, you might want to rethink criterion 3 if you have trouble finding your dream home. I’m on my third home, and I found that pictures tend to not adequately represent most houses. You’ll find stunning pics of homes that are terrible, and ordinary pics of homes that are actually great in person. I am actually in one of the latter! When we were looking at houses, the exterior pic of my current home was boring. We pulled up to it, and my immediate thought was “not this one.” Nothing wrong with it, just not my style. Then we got inside, and everything changed. The layout was perfect for us, there was lots of light, and the kitchen was a central feature of the main floor. I still don’t love the exterior–the color scheme (yellow/red) isn’t my favorite, nor is the style of the house (colonial), and the landscaping leaves a bit to be desired, but those are cosmetic details that can be altered in time. (Except the style, but we are considering an addition and/or large front porch, which would change the entire scale and appearance of the house.) This is the first of our homes that really felt like home. We couldn’t have known it at the time, but it’s also a great location and neighborhood with good schools.

  • Attached Garage, Large Pantry, Separate Homeschool area! I could go on and on with my list of “must have’s”……But I think for our family of 6 these would be the most important.

  • Patti says:

    Every home has different problems… you never get one with everything you want. Even when we added a brand new kitchen/den/laundry room to one, there were things I would have changed two weeks later! We have bought three homes and every one of them had major “curb appeal” issues but good bones so don’t rule those out too much. With a little cleaning, painting, and some minor repairs (like having the floors refinished before we moved in), these homes have turned into beauties. In each case, there was a “feel” about the house that made us know it was for us. Maybe that was God saying “this is the one for you”. Pray about it and you will know when it is the right one.
    My top 3 for this house were: school district/location, age of home (we like older homes), and usefulness of rooms. We live in every inch of our house! Also… love the small yard (we didn’t want a lot of lawn maintenance) and our screen porch!

  • jennifer says:

    Amen to taking the kids with you! I built our ‘dream’ house w/0 stairs b/c so many people kept talking about what a hassle it was. My son now asks for a house with stairs! I remember when I was a kid stairs could be almost magical!

  • Susan says:

    We love our house although we live although we had a surprise 3rd child and are outgrowing it as the kids get older. Here is what is important to us.

    1. Space – either larger lot or space between houses (I have loud kids and couldn’t imagine living next to me). We like to garden and have a hunting dog which needs room, plus someday we’re thinking chickens.

    2. layout. We have a 2000 SF ranch. Master is opposite the other 2 bedrooms and we love it.

    3. Lucky to have hardwood floors throughout. When it’s clean it’s clean!!!

    4. Storage. I have friends who have bigger homes but inefficient storage. Our smaller home has many closets plus closet organizers we put in throughout so we can have more floor space. (I really recommend doing organizers than dressers in kids rooms, then have shelving for toys – think veritcal). Everything has it’s place here!

    5. Interview neighbors. We did and we of course interviewed the ones we like now. Wish we would have looked into kids though as we lack them in our neighborhood.

    6. We remodeled and expanded our kitchen in the footprint of the house. I added a huge 5X7 ft island without a cooktop for safety and because they take a ton of space on islands. We can spread out crafts, homework as wells as prep without running into each other.

    7. Check out energy bills. We have friends in mini-mansions who pay 4 times more than we do – ridiculous.

    8. Schools and bus stop proximity – no brainer

    Hope this helps anyone who’s looking!

  • Buffie says:

    We just sold our house and bought a new one last year. It was a bit of an adventure, but we managed. Here is the criteria we used:
    1) Location – School zone was very important along with distance from my parent’s house
    2) Yard – We were moving out of a townhouse with a postage stamp sized yard and wanted a nice sized yard, preferably around an acre. I enjoy gardening so the yard issue was non-negotiable.
    3) Being able to picture ourselves still living in this house in 30 years. We have no desire to move again and want this house to be the last house we buy. This will truly be our children’s home.
    4) My own parking space/driveway. Anyone who has dealt with parking issues in a townhouse can most likely understand this one.
    5) A garage – Hubby needed a place to store all his tools and to be able to work on the various household projects I have planned for him for the next 30 years. Plus I want to be able to park in an attached garage in the winter to make it a little easier to get our kids in the car.
    6) 2 Bathrooms, Preferably a Master Bath and a Shared Bath – In the townhouse we had one full bath and one half bath. It was ok with just the two of us, but adding kids meant adding at least one more full bath for us.

  • Jennifer says:

    The things on our list:
    1. good school district
    2. 3 bedrooms on the same level
    3. decent-sized yard for kids to run & play
    4. main-floor laundry — I spend half my time in the kitchen & half in the laundry room. When they’re on the same level, I can work more efficiently.

  • Tara says:

    I need 2 eating areas – a formal dining area that I can convert for use during the week for a homeschool room. My kids are 2nd – 6th grades and we spend a lot of our time in our school room. For homeschooling it is nice to have maps and charts visible, plus lots of books and supplies. Because we have the room, we can have an art center, writing area, and lots of neat areas for school.

  • Jen says:

    I just have to say I don’t always trust the listings…my current 6 bedroom home was listed as a 4 bedroom home, cause they thought it would sell better listed that way. I’m glad I checked it out anyway, I love my house!

  • emily e says:

    My husband and I close on our new house in three weeks! I’m so excited. For us, we just happened upon the perfect house. It’s next door to my parents and we had friends that owned it 3 owners ago, so we are familiar with it and have always loved it. (Plus, free babysitters next door! ;))

    Anyway- for us, three non-negotiables:
    1) location- we pretty much decided on my parents neighborhood as the only acceptable location (see free babysitters above). It’s also a great well-established neighborhood and very convenient to the interstate so that my husband can get to the airport easily since he travels a lot. Plus it’s an easy drive to church where my daughter will also attend preschool next year.
    2) a good yard- we plan to spend a lot of time outdoors. After living in a condo in the city for 5 years, we insist upon a good yard!
    3) good entertaining space- if there’s one thing my husband loves to do, it’s entertain. Our new house is great for that. We can’t wait to move in.

    Best of luck in your continued search!

  • Jamie says:

    we always took our two kids to showings. it helped get a feel for the house. and my two year old, after flushing a toilet twice, helped us figure out there was a leaking bathroom in one.

    we also only looked in our ideal neighborhoods. but we learned not to go by pictures. we ended up buying the house that i didn’t want to see b/c i thought it looked too small. after seeing it in person, it was the most spacious house we’d looked at. sometimes pictures are deceiving.

    good luck on your hunt!

  • Katherine says:

    1 – A yard, even if it’s just a small one, so I can actually start a garden and the kid(s) can play.
    2 – Off street parking, preferably a garage, but even just a driveway would be helpful.
    3 – How about something actually in the house? A decent to large sized kitchen. Lots of counter space.

  • Chris says:

    I live alone and bought a condo in October. I didn’t think it was the one when I drove by it, but at the last minute added it to the six or seven we had already scheduled for the day. Non-negotiables

    1) School district (even though I don’t have kids). I just live inside the better school district in the area.
    2) All one floor with no stairs
    3) (For the next one) A spacious kitchen. That’s the one thing this condo doesn’t have, although I have started a pantry with nice shelves in the nearby front closet.

    I’d also like to live near the water, but I think that’s champagne taste talking …

  • Lee says:

    1. kitchen size
    2. 3 bedrooms with a family room or room to make playroom and school room or 4 bedrooms
    3. location

    Having a master bath in our rental is nice so having that again would be nice but not needed for us!

    Good Luck hunting!

  • Cassie says:

    Good luck with house hunting!

    Our top 3 would be:
    – Safe neighbourhood.
    – Large kitchen.
    – Dishwasher!

  • Mey says:

    We are also shopping for a house and selling one. As empty nesters we have tons of flexibility but knowing my my heart and my natural inclinations I am asking God for wisdom and discernment in these areas:

    1.Select a house in which we can fellowship and be hospitable
    This means spacious within our financial ability, not stuffy or fragile and close to our church family.
    2. Select a house that does not become an idol.
    It is very easy to find yourself spending time and money beyond reason making a house beautiful and becoming a slave to home decor, gardening and repairs. This results in more stress, greater pride and less resources to serve God.
    3. Select a house aligned with our financial reality.
    We strive to be debt free.

    In terms of comforts, as I consider the challenges faced by my sisters and brothers in third world countries I have decided I will be grateful with whatever the Lord sees fit and I will do my best to infuse the place with joy for His Glory.

    • Crystal says:

      I love these three things you’re looking for in a house — those are also things we really desire! Not only are we asking ourselves when we look at homes, “Will this work well for our family’s needs?” We’re also asking, “Will this allow us to be hospitable and provide ample room for effective ministry?” Thanks for sharing!

  • Mellora says:

    Our non-negotiables next time around will be:
    Master bath (we have one with a separate tub and shower — LOVE THEM)
    four bedrooms on the same floor
    at least a 1/2 bath on every floor (you’d be surprised how awful it is to not have a bathroom on the main floor, especially during pregnancy!)
    large pantry

  • Honey says:

    Location, kitchen space (since I cook for 7), and a big back yeard for the 5 kids!

  • Bonita says:

    1. Location. I call my current neighborhood “Redneck Woods”. Nuff said.

    2. Low maintenance, well built, and updated. We’ve been trying to fix and upgrade my current house for 14 years.

    3. A floor plan that I really like and really works for our family. Probably more open as opposed to a bunch of segregated rooms.

    As a side note, I’d love to have a place for my square foot gardens and a clothesline, but I’m scared that would require me to live in another redneck neighborhood.

  • Angie says:

    You know, I would have originally said I wanted 3 bedrooms, 1.5 baths, and 1 car garage, until I looked at some online listings and my husband pointed out that some homes in our price range that looked nice listed 2 parking spaces or 3 parking spaces. I assumed this meant the number of parking spaces in the driveway, until my husband pointed out that probably means on-street parking. I am not going to take on a mortgage so I can park on the street. We actually already have a mortgage since we live in a condo, and we don’t even have to park on the street now.

    Based on what I have seen, I’m concerned we will have to make concessions, but I hate to compromise. I’m one of those people who really try to strive for what I really want. My husband is adamant about no oil heat and no electric heat. But that only leaves gas and propane, and there aren’t many homes heated by gas or propane in our area.

    Since you have saved 100% and do not have to unload another property you are in a good negotiating position. Perhaps some homes that are listed slightly outside of your price range can be negotiated down since you seem like a prime buyer – especially in this market.

    You are such an inspiration. I always wanted to not have a mortgage so that I wouldn’t be at the mercy of the banks. I didn’t think we could even do it, but now I think it is worth having unrealistic goals.

  • Sara says:

    We’re not picky. We like fixer-uppers!! It’s all we’ve lived in. Our current home’s kitchen has not been updated since 1959. That includes some of the appliances. We are saving to pay for the renovation in cash. We’ve already done the bathrooms. It’s going to be beautiful when we are done!

    My top three non-negotiables….

    1. school district – there are only two districts around here I would consider buying in
    2. big yard – we garden so we need at least a half acre
    3. good bones and structure – We can fix anything else we don’t like!

  • sarah says:

    We purchased our dream home in December, it had EVERYTHING we were looking for and more. Our non-negotiable were as follows:

    1. must be in the township we were currently in
    2. must have 5 bedrooms
    3. must have first floor laundry
    4. finished basement

    Not picky or anything right!! But we found our house on a fluke and it all worked out so I know that it was right for us. I plan to spend many, many years here and our next move will probably be a new construction (because I am that picky 😉

  • Courtney says:

    We’re actually moving tomorrow! (I know, why am I online, right? Just one more time before the computer is packed for several days!)

    We did exactly like y’all before we started house hunting. We actually looked for weeks online before we viewed a home. In the end, we only viewed 5 homes (we had only picked out 4, but the realtor wanted to show us one so we looked at it too). We bought one of those 5 houses and are SO EXCITED about the move. We’ve loved this home, but there were several things about it that just didn’t suit us so when the opportunity to move came, we took it.

    Our absolute must haves might sound strange to some. A bathroom not connected to a bedroom for guests was a must. In our current home there is a jack and jill bath for between the kids rooms and a master bath…and that’s all. I prefer guests not to have to trapse through the bedrooms to get to a bathroom so for me, that was a must.

    A laundry room. I know a lot of people don’t have them, but my laundry closet has been a disaster for a while. I’ve organized it the best I could, hanging shelves to the ceiling and all, but the dirty clothes seem to take over! I wanted a place I could organize and easily sort the clothes and then close the door if needed!

    A garage. Our daughter was born here and it was a real issue keeping her dry and warm in the rain and winter between the driveway and the car. We weren’t so concerned about us, but for the baby we really wanted a garage. We’re expecting again in August, so this became a must have. 🙂

  • Aimee says:

    It is hard work finding a home, but once you do it is so worth all the wait and work! A big thing I looked for was laundry room on same floor as bedrooms (it makes laundry so much easier), another thing is hardwood floors and a basement for plenty of storage and room to grow! Keep the kids involved it makes them understand the process and more thankful for what we have! Have fun looking!

  • Megan says:

    A big, beautiful kitchen, tons of windows, and a separate den/family/playroom.

  • Annie says:

    My husband’s a pastor and during his call interviews, we had two days to look at and put in an offer on a house in our potential new town as it was 7 hours away from our then-current location. (We only had 3 weeks of severance money remaining from his previous call.) We had been looking at internet pictures on our own, and our realtor had sent us several to look over. The one house we did not want to look at, she insisted that we see. The picture was a poorly-taken front shot with no additional views, the price was at the top edge of our budget and it had been on the market without an offer for almost 3 years. We could only imagine what was wrong with it.

    The end result: a gorgeous 115 yr old home, with 11.5′ ceilings, original hardwood floors (newly refinished) and original stained glass windows and French doors in the dining room, more natural light than you can shake a stick at and 3600 sq ft! All of the 11 other (yes, we looked at TWELVE houses in one day with 2 toddlers in tow), fell very short when compared to this one. It met all our requirements:

    1. In the downtown area – 3 blocks from preschool, less than 1 mile from the church, 3/4 mile from a grocery, 6 blocks from the library, etc. since we only had 1 car.

    2. Have at least 4 bedrooms and 2 baths – we have one boy & one girl, and we live 6 hours from our closest family… houseguests are frequent and a given.

    3. Be able to accomodate a dining table that seats 10-12, and have comfortable entertaining space for 30-50. We have lots of dinner parties and host an annual Advent open house to which our entire congregation and community of friends is invited. A kitchen to accomodate this quantity of cooking is a bonus.

    4. A yard for the kids to play in and for us to have a moderate kitchen garden (our current garden is 25′ x 15′).

    This house surpassed our wildest expectations and then some. I can’t imagine us being happy with any of our other options. But, at the same time, everything about this move and call has God’s handwriting all over it. I love it when God makes the path obvious!

    Good luck as you continue this adventure! And, make sure to check out some of the houses with ugly pictures. You never know what you might find…

  • Krysti says:

    The ideal house:
    1) location: somewhere in the mountains that still pays their teachers decent
    2) Essentials: Large fenced-in yard. With two, hopefully more, kids and two dogs we need space. 4+ bedrooms: The kids can share a room but I don’t like toys all over my house so a playroom is a must. Master bathroom: time alone, ’nuff said.

  • Leah W says:

    Things I must have are
    A nice sized kitchen with ample counter space. I would love an island but my husband is not fond of them.
    A playroom for the kiddo. This is important because I do not like toys in the bedroom, it distracts him from the real reason he is in the bedroom.
    A fenced in back yard.
    An open layout, it is just more inviting.
    And a guest room so family and friends can visit (most all of our relatives live in another state).

  • Eileen says:

    Hey Crystal –
    I have a suggestion for you… Approach homebuying as you do managing your budget and it will make it much more fun!
    Any home in the right location may be the perfect first house for your family AT THE RIGHT PRICE… I would not summarily dismiss any house based on an internet picture… If it is an eyesore, it may be your jewel in the rough and with a little investment (paint, redoing hardwood floors and cosmetic bathroom and kitchen updates) you can have your dream house at a bargain price. Also, since Jessie is a lawyer and you are not in a rush, you should also consider a short sale or buying a house from an estate. I would look for the worse house on the best street and pay to have upgrades made. My husband and I did this for two homes and made $220K on the first house over our purchase price and cost of upgrade and are up about $300K on our exisiting house (even with a 30% dip in prices in our New England town).
    We bought our first house for 227K, redid the hardwood floor and painted before moving in for about $3K and slowing did cosmetic upgrades. Ten years later (before the housing price explosion) we sold it in a week and were able to move to a small ranch home in an estate area, which we converted into a colonial.
    Be patient, plug along and snag a bargain in the best area that you can.. Cash is king girl!

  • Cathy says:

    1. At least two bathrooms.
    2. Sidewalks in the neighborhood – so many newer neighborhoods don’t put in sidewalks which forces kids to walk on the streets. Crazy.
    3. A laundry room that is nowhere near the kitchen… why do builders put laundry in a closet off the kitchen? Again, crazy.

  • Dawn says:

    WOW, purchasing a home can be so much fun if you think of all the hard work you put in to get there. I totally agree on the things that you “have” to have…there are just things that should be totally non-negotiable, since those are likely the things that you will love most about your new home. I actually was a bit more picky when we purchased our home…and the house we finally found was a total fixer-upper but it had all the aspects that we wanted. We have been in the house now for almost 5 years and are still working on a few projects (but nothing major). If I had to narrow my list to just 3 things though I would say that the kitchen size and cupboard space is HUGE, the yard was a necessity for the kids to be able to enjoy the house just as much on the inside and out…plus we like to have a fire and invite friends over and our yard is totally inviting for such things, third would be the front “picture” window…I love Christmas…and I love my Christmas Tree, so of course I have to have the perfect place to showcase it during the season. #3 is probably strange to most but I had to have it. lol

    I will be praying for you and your family to find something that will fit everyone’s desires as well as potential for growth in your family and ministry.

  • Rachelle M. says:

    Top Three most haves:

    1. A very large kitchen with a ton of cabinets (12 of us here!)

    2. must have at least 4 bedrooms , more would be nice

    3. Must have 3 bathrooms!! ( again 12 of us )

    and of course in our price range!
    Good luck finding your home

  • Jenae says:

    We just moved last week! Three non-negotiables for me were a large kitchen, a PANTRY (which we didn’t have in our current home), and all the bedrooms on the same floors (which is upstairs in this house). Oh, and a laundry room on the same floor as the bedrooms! I guess that’s 4. 🙂

  • Jenae says:

    You’ve got only 2 days to get the $8000 tax credit! You better hurry and write up a contract by April 30!

  • HeatherHH says:

    We are house-hunting now after moving back near my husband’s family, currently sharing their house. Our non-negotiables:

    1) At least 2/3 acre (prefer more, but don’t look at those with less)

    2) Within 20 minutes of my husband’s work, preferrably 15.

    3) At least 3 bed, 2 bath, 1800 sq ft (prefer more!)

    4) Large dining room or ability to rearrange room usage, hard to tell online. But we have #6 on the way and I’m in my 20s and we want to have people over, so dining area needs to be at least 15 ft long, preferrably more.

  • Anitra says:

    Our must-haves when we were house-hunting (about 4 years ago now):
    * Basement or workshop area
    * Decent-sized yard
    * Good for entertaining (inside and out)
    * Neighborhood that feels safe (we knew we would raise kids to at least preschool age here)

    * close to the highway
    * multiple bathrooms

    We ended up with a house that needed a lot of long-term work (but nothing we couldn’t live with short-term: important, since we couldn’t afford to start major work right away). In 3 years, we’ve completely redone 2 out of 3 bedrooms, the master bathroom, and done one major outdoors project (a buried drainage system). We’re pretty happy with our house, since we knew most of the “problems” ahead of time. The only things we really don’t like are:
    * the kitchen (tiny galley kitchen with semi-broken cabinetry)
    * the size/dampness of the basement
    * lack of a garage (instead we have a large broken-down shed)
    * the 3rd bedroom is not well suited for children (french doors to the outside), which might be an issue in a few more years.

  • Mary says:

    For me, the yard is a big one. It must have lots of large, old growth trees. None of these little twig trees they plant and call “landscaping”. Gotta have shade! And lots of room to plan both sun- and shade-loving flowers.

    And after living in a home for 7 years with a basement not much taller than me (the floor joists above rub my hair when it’s poofy!) my next house will have a full basement.

  • Joy F says:

    Ours were a 2-car garage (so no one has to be stuck scraping snow and ice), larger living room to comfortably host guests, and separate dining area (not crammed into an overly cramped kitchen). In the future I’d also add a fully fenced backyard so we don’t have to worry so much about the kids playing outside.

  • My fiance and I are in the process of buying our first home. He’s doing the brunt of the work, but there sure is a lot involved! Our top three criteria:

    1) Location. Within an hour’s drive to his work – and still in our budget. Unfortunately, this eliminated nearly everything except those in the the worst parts of the city (and, until yesterday, he was working night shift!).
    2) Lot size. I grew up on about 500 acres, so I’m dreadfully spoiled. 🙂 We were both hoping for something with a decent-sized yard.
    3) Front porch. Yes, it’s silly, I know. With all the thing we could want INSIDE. But we really, really want a great big front porch.

    The house we’re hoping and praying goes through is something only God could have worked out. It’s just under an hour from his work, has a HUGE front porch, and sits on its very own 8.5 acres!

  • Karen says:

    House hunting is very time consuming, a great Realtor can really help!
    1. Location
    2. Timing – buying at the right time
    3. “It” factor, some homes just have “it”!! Makes you feel good the moment you walk in the door!!!!!

  • Renee says:

    My sister convinced us to look at a house we thought we wouldn’t like when we were buying our first home. She said we should look “just to get an idea of what that price would buy in that neighborhood.” We ended up buying that house.
    Your wise financial choices have given you an opportunity that many people do not have. I think there are probably more people out there who don’t have any choice than those that have too many. What a blessing! Have fun!

  • Tracy says:

    We would need a garage with enough space for the car and additional storage; a large, open kitchen with functional cabinets; and pedestrian- or bike-friendly access to park/shopping/dining.

  • Carol says:

    We’ve sold 2 houses in 3 years; bought 1; and have moved 3 times. Having lived in so many places, I know these things are matter to me:
    1. Sunlight – The two houses I owned were next to neighbors that “loved” their too tall, overgrown trees, and even if I chopped down every tree in my yard, my house was dark. Now, I’m living in a rental that’s bathed in sunlight all day, and I could never go back to dark!
    2. No garage under the master bedroom! Three times I’ve had that, and it’s extra cold, loud, and the fumes really bother me.
    3. Sizable kitchen. I spend a massive amount of time cooking in my kitchen (and supervising homeschooling too). The kitchen in the rental we’re living in is so small, I have to use chairs as workspace. LOL

  • Gina says:

    1) School District — We have one of the top school districts in the state near us and that is our #1 priority

    2) All bedrooms on the same floor- preferably a 2nd floor- don’t wish for a ranch

    3) Basement with space for a den

    (others included to our narrowing down–2+ bathrooms, 4+ bedrooms, yard)

  • Jen D says:

    We currently live in a home that everyone who visits LOVES…but not me. Part of it was built in the 20s with two additions in the 70s. The house is totally unique (which I’m hoping will draw potential buyers) but not well laid out for a family with more than one young child. It’s a long story, but trust me, our house would be GREAT for a family with teens, but not toddlers.
    My three must haves for the house I hope to begin looking for in the next 3-5 years are:
    1) good layout
    2) at least four bedrooms
    3) master suite
    Okay, I don’t think I can just have three.
    4) pantry
    5) sidewalks within an established neighborhood (we live in the country now)
    6) no pool in the backyard (we have one now and the thought of my 2 year old somehow drowning scares me to death)

  • Congratulations on saving for your house! Your story is such an inspiring one… it has my husband and I talking about what we might be able to do with our finances!

    Having just sold our first home, here are the things that I would say were non-negotiable in any house we bought right now:

    1) It’s not a fixer-upper! My husband is very handy and very talented at remodeling. We were able to do most of the work on our house (which was a definite fixer upper) but we learned just how MUCH is involved in completely redoing a house! We had no idea what we were getting into when we started – if you think something will cost so much or take so much time to do, multiply that by at least three times and you should be right on track! This is something we’ll be keeping in mind for next time!

    2) Three bedrooms – we have two little ones, aged one and two. Again, at the house we just sold, we only had two bedrooms on the main floor so we thought we would have them share a room. This might be feasible for when they are a bit older but having an infant and a one year old in the same room means you have everyone getting up in the night when the baby wakes up!

    3) A bedroom and bathroom separate from the rest – I absolutely loved this about the house we sold. We remodeled the basement to include a bedroom and full bathroom down there. My family is out of town and it was so nice to provide them a space of their own down there when they came for visits. The rental house we’re in right now has all of the bedrooms in the same area and I know it made it harder for my mom on this last visit – her room was right next to the kiddos’!

    You can read more about our house story here: Something Fun…How I Met My House

    Little Life Improvements latest blog: Coming Next Week: 5 Days of Freezer Lunches

  • kelley says:

    1. energy efficient
    2. big kitchen and pantry
    3. good-sized yard and deck or patio

  • marney says:

    Closet space, closet space, closet space!

  • Kris says:

    #1 Large Kitchen that you can also entertain in.
    #2 An area away from the main living room that the kids can go to with their friends. Our children are all grown now and we didn’t have this and it made it difficult and made them reluctant to have friends over to watch TV and hang out.
    #3 School District

  • Leah says:

    our must haves are:
    1. LOCATION-in our current town and in a few neighborhoods that we’ve picked
    2. 2 car garage or area to build one–we have to have that for the winter
    3. absolutely 2 bathrooms

    we have more must haves, but those are just three!

  • Susan says:

    1. Location – not in a development or subdivision
    2. At least 1/2 an acre of property
    3. Large kitchen

  • rr says:

    So we just bought a home and it was crazy how high the realtor fees were, especially since I did all the work tp find it? And I saw the salers realitor once would youbuy a home for sale by owner to avoid the fees?

  • Amy says:

    Here are my 3 non-negotiable items:

    1. A good-sized, fenced back yard with at least a couple shade trees. Our dog stays outside year-round, and we wouldn’t want him to have to be chained up all the time, or suffer hot Missouri summers with no shade.

    2. Two living spaces – this would be an upgrade for us, but we’ve talked about how nice it would be to have a “TV” room and another room for entertaining or finding some quiet. It’s definitely something we want in our next house.

    3. A bathroom off the master bedroom. It would be nice to have a bathroom with a shower, but I would take even a 1/2 bath like we have now. It’s great not to have to go out into the hallway to use the bathroom in the middle of the night, especially when we have company.

    Thanks for sharing about your house-hunting journey! I hope you find the house of your dreams!

  • Susan says:

    After living in military quarters at several locations (bleah!!), a rental or two, and owning both a starter home and a real fixer-upper, my criteria for our house was that there must be a window looking out from the kitchen, there must be easy access to the outdoor space (patio, deck, what have you) from the kitchen because I like to cook outdoors, and the house must all be one piece, meaning there are no additions to the original structure. Our fixer-upper had an enclosed porch or Florida room with a leaky roof and no A/C (not good in San Antonio) as well as a poorly thought-out addition off the master bedroom. The addition had a leaky roof as well as a crooked floor and I suspected that it had not been built with a permit. Oh, and both of these “enhancements” blocked original windows in the master bedroom and bath.
    Having said all that, the fixer-upper was one that did not look good at all on the internet, but I’m glad we viewed it in person. It languished on the market for 8 months during the height of the housing boom, and we were able to purchase it for $30,000 below the original asking price. Despite the challenges it presented, we were able to update that place and sold it for $75,000 more than we paid after only three years. We rolled that equity over into our current home, which has all the features I mentioned and more.
    Good luck on your home purchase! I’ve really enjoyed this series and it has inspired me to consider how we can pay off our mortgage much faster.

  • Jennifer says:

    We just bought a house in February, we actually took all three kids ranging from 1 to 5 at the time to view most of the houses to save money when we could not get a babysitter, which was most of the 6 months it took looking. They actually liked going too. Also, look to the school district if you are planning on them going to their home school, my oldest was capped out due to them having too many kids in her grade and class size.

  • Pamela O. says:

    1. Location, location, location – maybe those ARE my top three 🙂 non-negotiables. The next place we live, I would like to be within walking distance of a library, park and grocery store. I want to be very close to my husbands work (his commute right now is 30-45 minutes each way) and to our church.

    After living in a home where we have to drive everywhere and far for many things I have decided this will be a non-negotiable next time!

    2. Open Floor Plan – our home that we are in now (which we bought, gutted down to the studs, and rebuilt) has this and I LOVE it. I am in the kitchen cooking a lot because I love it. I love being able to interact with my kids, husband and/or guests while I am doing that.

    3. More than 1 bedroom! 🙂 Yes, you read that correct. Our home is a 1 bedroom. We remodeled with the intention of adding on. The 1 bedroom was supposed to be a temporary thing…that was about 4 years ago. Now, with 3 kids, I’m ready to have at least one more bedroom, maybe even two. 🙂

    • alyssa says:

      I’m with you here! With 2 kids in a 1 BR apartment, we are so ready to move! I can’t imagine having 3 kids in here! We’re looking at renting a 3 BR house. It’s pretty small, but has alot of perks: location, big yard w/deck, and just the fact that it’s a house instead of an apartment! Yay!

  • Azul says:

    Having lived in our current home for 11 years now, I can confidently say our top features are:

    4 bedrooms ( or 3BR + a bonus room large enough for exercise eq.)
    a large Kitchen
    Walk in pantry (I love mine and am loathe to give it up)
    2 baths with at least 1 garden tub (I don’t care about jets; they’re just gunk-magnets).
    a separate family room would be ideal.

  • Debi B says:

    We are selling our house in KC and moving back to Iowa! 🙂 Yes, quite stressful! lol But, I loved what Mey shared as those share our heart as well! We have LOVED having a home where people could stay with us, we could have foster kids, and have lots of people over!!! We hope to continue that! So….

    – Home with a guest room, or at least an area that can be made into a guest area.

    – Fenced back yard – we have a dog and young foster kids! 🙂

    -Nice sized eating area – preferably in the kitchen, as I’m not really a dining room person. But, again – to be able to have many over!

    – Basement. I’m still amazed that living in the midwest there are homes without basements. lol For shelter purposes, but also storage and we want a home where we can kind of have a ‘youth hang out’ area in OUR basement for the boys to have their friends over and be able to play ping pong, pool table, etc. Teenagers love being with other teenagers, so we want our home to be a fun, loving place for them to WANT to be in. Would much rather have the kids want to hang out at OUR house, than somewhere else. 🙂

    Bless you as you find your ‘perfect’ home!!! So excited for you guys!

  • ksenia says:

    Buying a house is so much work! But it’s fun also 🙂 We just purchased a house and I LOVE these things about it:
    1. Location (I can walk to almost everything I need — using less gas!)
    2. Open and bright floor plan (looks very welcoming and we use less electricity)
    3. Fantastic neighborhood with nice, clean, friendly neighbors

    The one and only thing I don’t like (and of course you cannot have it all in a first home): it backs up to a busy street (but with a relatively good sized yard it’s not SO bad 🙂

  • Sandi says:

    We are just starting to really get out there and look for houses. Our requirements are:

    1. Fireplace
    2. Buying in the same neighborhood we currently live in
    2. Big yard
    3. 4 bedrooms

    I love seeing everyone’s requirements!

  • Janell says:

    I totally agree with you! We were able to buy a house after 2 years of marriage and we had no children yet. For us, our 3 things were 2 toilets (they did not have to be full bathrooms), a dishwasher, and a fenced in backyard. My husband was a youth pastor so he had 2 camps and a mission trip to go on while I was looking at houses. After looking at many house in our price range I was starting to feel like I would never find our house. Finally we came across a house that was just barely out of our price range. I walked in and you could see a large fenced in back yard. I only saw 1 bathroom but found out there was another bathroom in the garage. (It was near the beach so houses were built that way so you could shower after you got home from the beach.) The kitchen was great but no dishwasher – until we opened the pantry. There was a portable dishwasher! The Realtor said it would not last long – so without my husband I put in an offer. They accepted my offer! We did have a clause in the offer that I had to get my hubby’s approval. He loved it! God provided everything. Watching Him sell it when were were about to go to the mission field was awesome too!

  • amanda says:

    The three “musts” for our next home are:
    3 car garage
    at least .5 acres
    4 bedrooms (3 of which must be on one level)

  • Tonya says:

    Well this is an easy question as we are closing on our next home in 4 weeks! Our top three: living room *and* family room, all bedrooms (4) on the same floor and 2 1/2 attached garage. We also wanted a masterbath but wasn’t a deal breaker and the house we are buying has one so we pretty much got everything we wanted in our new home!!! There is also a huge vegetable garden in the backyard which I am so excited about growing my own food and saving money that way 🙂

  • Well, having been there / done that and hindsight being what it is…
    my main thing is the neighborhood. Our neighborhood doesn’t have any young families for our kid (soon to be 2 kids) to play with.

    What we do have (they moved in after we did) is a convicted rapist and a convicted murderer.

    My advice is to be sure to do a sex offender search and parolee search for the neighborhoods you’re considering. Save yourself a huge load of worry.

  • Tonya says:

    oh yeah and it is so NOT a buyers market. Tons of foreclosures, AS IS and short sales. We avoided all of those and were still able to find a prefect house! I feel your pain on the house hunting I am so happy to be DONE with it!!!

  • Suzy says:

    Three bedrooms, attached garage, and a flat yard. You would be surprised how many homes in KY seem to be built on hilltops – backyards with an extreme, cliff-like grade! Not family friendly for sure!

    • Heather says:

      @Suzy, LOL, I live in one of those KY with a sloped yard. I does have it’s advantages….it wears kids out quickly and it’s great in the winter for sledding. 🙂

  • Tricia Young says:

    1. School district: We want to send our kids to public school and wanted the best district in our county.
    2. Neighborhood: After living on the side of a mountain on a dirt road, I only wanted to be in a neighborhood where my kids can ride bikes, I can go for a run, and we have neighbors to wave to!
    3. Culdesac: We wanted to be in a culdesac because we play outside a lot and didn’t want to be on a cross street with any traffic. We ended up at the end of a culdesac which has turned out to be perfect b/c we only get traffic from the 3 homes at the end with us. Any future moves will 100% have an ‘end of culdesac’ requirement!

    As for the actual house:
    1. square footage so we don’t have to move as our kids grow, if we have more children, or even after they have moved out. This also meant no wasted space because a large square footage number means nothing if you can’t use it wisely.
    2. laundry on first floor. My husband was adamant about this so if there was ever a leak it won’t ruin the entire house, but only the first floor. Makes sense, but I am tired of hauling the clothes up and down the stairs 🙂
    3. a fenced back yard. we could have fenced something in if it was in our budget after agreeing on a home price, but having it already fenced seemed very convenient to us since we’d be moving in with kids and want to use it right away.

    We met all three criteria and love our house!

    Happy house hunting!

  • Aryn says:

    Don’t go entirely by the pictures. Sometimes they look spacious, but they’re small, sometimes they look cramped, but they’re spacious. Some Realtors are not good photographers! Some houses also look cluttered, but once you see them, you realize the potential. Pictures are a good indicator, but not the whole story.

    • Trisha says:

      @Aryn, I thought the same thing when I read this portion of the post. We looked at 39 homes in three days before settling on our house and the pictures we saw online before looking at the homes were often deceiving. In fact, we ended up buying a house that had only unimpressive outside pictures, but inside was a BEAUTIFUL spacious kitchen that sold the house to us almost instantly!

  • Amy F says:

    1. A good sized kitchen – I love to cook!
    2. A Basement – I have a huge fear of tornadoes!
    3. A Garage – I am tired of living without one and don’t have the desire or energy to build one!

  • Charlotte says:

    Our top 3 when we were looking for a house were: 1) 3 bedrooms, 2) office space- whether that meant a 4th bedroom or a nook off the kitchen or just an extra large living room, didn’t matter. There just had to be a place for the computer, and 3) a fully fenced back yard- this was non-negotiable and it has been my sanity saver. It’s wonderful to be able to send the kids out the door and not worry about them.

  • jennifer says:

    Please don’t judge a house by its online pictures!
    I’ve seen houses that looked great online be “heck no!” when I saw them in person, and the home we live in now had no-great pictures online, but we loved the house when we saw it in person (their agent did not usually do residential real-estate- she included a picture of a crowded laundry room with the ironing board out but did not include a picture of the back yard with the green-belt view!)

    • Brooke says:

      @jennifer, I completely agree. Our house was built in the early 1970’s, and the owners did not do much to update the look. From the pictures online it looked like the Brady Bunch house. I thought no way. In person, I realized a couple of new light fixtures and tearing off some metallic wall paper was all it needed.

  • Julie says:

    Quiet street. Three bedrooms upstairs and fenced backyard. And then a master bath. I know that’s four, but we managed to find all of them.

  • Melissa says:

    Our three musts: garage, basement, and NO STAIRS!!! I am a Nervous Nelly when it comes to stairs and babies!!

  • Nicole says:

    Definitley a pool (or enough room to put a pool in), fenced in backyard, and a big kitchen.

  • Tiffany says:

    We are house hunting to and have put in several offers only to get outbid so I understand about how hard it is. My criteria are location, price (which is very limited), 3 bedrooms, and a master bath.

    Good Luck in the hunt.

  • Emily says:

    HA! I’ve been having those SAME thoughts, since we’re currently house hunting in Chicago… what a yucky process! Our 3 non-negotiables USED to be central AC, w/d connections, and a good school/neighborhood. Now that we’ve been looking a while, those have changed; affordability, proximity to my husbands job, and adequate space are the new ones! I wish you luck in your hunt!

  • Sarah in Alaska says:

    Ah, shucks, I thought this was going to be announcement that you’d found what you wanted and would have a contract in place by April 30th.

    Non-negotiables? uhm. At least 1000 sq ft. At least 2 bedrooms. Freestanding home – not a duplex/townhome.

  • Crystal,

    There is no need for you to spend so much time searching.

    My husband is a real estate agent.

    A buyer’s agent doesn’t cost you money. They are paid by the seller–even if the seller is the bank and the house is a foreclosure or short sale.

    A good agent will have a search into your MLS system that brings up the houses that meet your exact qualifications (number of bedrooms, size of house, size of lot, neighborhoods you like–even exact subdivisions, etc.) They can set this up to email you whenever a house comes up for sale (within 12 hours of it coming on the market, it will be emailed to you–automatically!) that meets your exact qualifications.

    There is no need for you to search online. They can set the computer up to do this FOR you.

    Dh meets people all the time who spend hours searching online like you are doig, and it is NOT neccessary at all. Most houses online aren’t even available anymore! The realtor’s search can bring you houses that are actually available to buy (not pending–aka under contract already, which comes up on online searches). He’ll have clients who still search online, and every single house they bring up is under contract.

    I wish more people understood this. It doesn’t have to take you so much time!

    • Camille says:

      @The Prudent Homemaker, I agree with Brandy! A buyer’s agent (a real estate agent that represents YOU and not the seller) is an absolute must. You didn’t mention if you have one or not, but if you don’t, get one! They can set up the computer to match ALL your criteria!

    • Crystal says:

      We’re not spending time searching online; our agent is doing that for us. 🙂 We’re just spending a lot of time looking at all the homes she finds for us in our exact specifications. We’d be sunk without her!

    • Heather says:

      @The Prudent Homemaker, I agree that a realtor can sometimes shorten the searching time. But it is a misnomer that the ‘seller’ is picking up the tab for the realtors…since the agents fees are a percentage of the price…if the buyer is paying the seller and the seller is paying both realtors out of the money paid for the house…who is really paying for the it?

  • Karen says:

    Off street parking, a bathroom on the main floor (Many DC homes don’t have this!), and 3 bedrooms (also hard to find!)– oh, in the right location (good public school, hello! even in DC they do exist! I didn’t want to pay for private.).

    Good luck!!!

  • Jackie says:

    1. Location. After living in Chicago for three years, getting back to Texas has been great. We are one hour away from both of our parents, two minutes from church, and close to our good friends.

    2. Space. Lots of room to have people over and fellowship, whether it be in the kitchen, backyard, etc.

    3. Four bedrooms or three bedrooms + office. We don’t have kids yet, but having four bedrooms is a requirement. Our bedroom, guest bedroom, my husband’s office and my office. It makes our house seem so much more livable because we’re not cramped in!

  • Michelle says:

    My three musts: (1) a safe neighborhood with lots of young children for my kiddos to play with, (2) good local schools, (3) no major repair work. Regarding my third “must”, here is some unsolicited advice, so please free to disregard! I think it is a must to hire your own home inspectors. I have a lot of respect for realtors, and have always hired them to buy & sell my homes, but they do have a vested interest in closing the deal and my personal experience has been that the inspectors they select facilitate that process. I’ve learned that getting my own roofing, electrical, etc. inspectors may cost a bit on the front end but protects me on the back end. Also, I’m sure you know this already, but if/when the inspectors find something, ask the sellers to either fix it or give you cash at closing to fix it. After buying and selling a few homes I’ve found that my sellers have always been willing to do that to close the deal, as have I. Good luck!

  • brookeb says:

    Our three were:
    More than 1 bathroom
    Preferably 3 bedrooms, or 2 and some extra room for a home office
    A good-sized kitchen

    You think house-hunting is difficult? Trying doing it in 2 weeks, with 1 day to actually look at houses. DH and I moved to our current area for my job and it was so much cheaper to purchase a home than to rent (a few hundred a month less) and we knew we would be here at least four years. So we searched online, drove up, and looked all day. We picked a house at the end of the day. It’s not our dream home, but it’s well within our means and we’ve been fairly happy with our choice.

  • MyLinda says:

    Our three non negotiables would be…

    1.) At least 4 bedrooms or the possibility (such as an office, den, etc.). We are adopting again (maybe a sibling set) so this is a must.

    2.) At least 2 bathrooms, lived with one long enough!

    3.) Big kitchen with eat in dining big enough for the whole family.

    a 4th for us would be a place for a playroom (right now we’ve turned our garage into a playroom).

  • Hannah says:

    Oh, please don’t judge a house by its online photos – or even how it looks in a drive by! We wouldn’t have bought this house if my husband hadn’t insisted we see it because the online photos were horrible! The previous home we bought looked so small in the driveby that, once again, my husband suggested we still see it and it was HUGE – just set sideways on the lot and had sixs bedrooms and large principle rooms.

  • stef says:

    i agree with The Prudent Homemaker,let an agent help you .That’s what we are here for and as a buyer it won’t cost you anything. We have more tools available and we know what to look for.

  • A master bathroom is a MUST at the top of my list! (and for my hubby, since we have 5 girls–he needs his own space!) I like having a two-story with the bedrooms upstairs. And two that I don’t currently have that I’d like in the next house (if possible, someday!) are a mudroom with ample space for coats, shoes, etc, and possibly laundry as well, and a dining/eating area that is big enough for quite a LARGE table. Right now with a family of 7, if we have anyone over it is quite a squeeze, and our current dining area is “landlocked” meaning there is nowhere else to go to gain space.

  • Laura says:

    We won’t be buying a house for a long time, but based on the life my husband and I are working towards, we’re hoping that when the time comes, we can find a house with:

    1) Several (5-10) acres of land. We want to use the space for a dairy cow, some chickens, and a serious vegetable garden. I think this will seriously narrow down our choices.
    2) Large kitchen so the kids can cook with me, at least two bathrooms, and at least three bedrooms so our family can grow.
    3) Good energy efficiency — or at least the potential to be made energy efficient with minor upgrades. This means no 2,000 square feet homes, even if they miraculously fit in our budget.

  • Becky says:

    Ditto the picture comments. I truly was opposed to looking at a particular house because the listing was so bad – wrong sq ft, omitted things like one of the bathrooms, and the worst photo I have ever seen. But husband insisted we look, and it turned out to be the house for us (and we hot it cheap because we were the first to tour it in the 60 days it had been on the market).

  • Julie says:

    Please don’t rule out a house because it looks bad on-line. When we were looking we did the same. Some houses we looked at that “showed” good, weren’t as good as the picture looked. But the house we bought, showed TERRIBLE! First of all it was an ugly exterior color in the picture and no pictures of the inside. Our realtors wanted us to look at it, but I was not so sure. Finally we decided what do we have to lose? Well, the house was a semi-custom, 1.6 acre with lots and lots of room. It was all oak cabinets and trim through out. Nothing need to be done with the exception of clean(remember it sat for along time), and put your own stamp (read paint, decorate).But after we put in a bid we found out that it was a foreclosure and had been sitting for over a year. After working with the realtor that was working for the bank foreclosing we found out why there was no pictures… he was lazy and a forclosure was an easy sale for him. We were skeptical! Our only out was that if it didn’t pass all of the hosue inspection and well inspection we could back out without penalties. It passed, but still hopeful that we wouldn’t have any added expenses because of the house sitting for so long we decided to go for it. We got it for a steal!! We know we won’t be staying here forever, but its now our investment for our forever home when the time comes. We’ve had no problems at all. Well….maybe, kindof, sortof one. When we bought the house we knew we would want to get new windows, and we needed to much sooner than we thought. But, we had planned for it and so it wasn’t a major event. A major investment…YES! A major event…no , because we were prepared.

    Just something to think about.

  • Stephanie says:

    Ok this is super easy: (we too have lived in about 10 different homes in the course of 10 years)
    1) laundry room UPSTAIRS. Why haul your dirty laundry downstairs just to take it back up again? I LOVE having the ‘actual living’ mess be upstairs and away from the first floor where visitors would see it.
    2) a LARGE pantry as in WALK IN SIZE…why builders don’t put these in anymore is crazy.
    3) Storage space-Garage shelves (or the potential for them w/2 cars), Cupboards and Closets that you can actually put more than three towels on or more than a set of sheets. Actual space to organize and EVERYTHING have a place.

  • Penny says:

    Three things:

    two bathrooms


    larger garage or pole barn

  • Julie says:

    Two bathrooms – oh my how I dream of having another toilet in our house.

    Laundry room on main floor. Our washer/dryer is in our basement. Hate that. I live with it but get laundry room envy every time I see one.

    Dishwasher. I have lived without one and it sucks. Can’t imagine doing that with children as we run one load every day.

    Good luck.

  • Julie says:

    Oh and if I could add a fourth ‘must’…a quieter street. We have a fence around our entire yard, but would still love a quieter street in my urban hood. 🙂

  • Camille says:

    You do have to remember that real estate agents are inputting the info so it often can be incorrect and the pictures — terrible! 🙂

    Our three non-negotiables were location, quiet neighborhood (location!), and location. 🙂

  • Jerilyn says:

    My non-negiotiables (I really want a house btw). A yard for my kids to play in. 3+ bedrooms. Kitchen space. Simple things!

  • Erin says:

    After having children, I would never buy another house without a mudroom for all the coats, shoes, bookbags, etc.

  • steph says:

    Large Garage
    DRY Basement
    Bath and a half or more

  • Hmmm. Tough to narrow it to three non-negotiables. I would say
    1) minimum of 3 bedrooms and
    2) workable good-size kitchen
    3) a place for hubby’s piano.

  • Lisa says:

    Important for us as we look for a house:
    1. SCHOOL DISTRICT! This is very important for us as we love our school -so we are only looking in our school district.
    2. Large yard
    3. Open living , dining, kitchen area to spend quality hours as a family and with others.

  • Brenna says:

    I agree with Jennifer that one can’t always judge as house from poor quality photos. I used to work at a real estate company taking pictures of house for sale. A room can be perfect by decuttering and a can of paint. I agree that the kitchen is the most important room because not only is it the “heart of the home” but because everyone gathers there. Our musts (more than 3) when building our home was 2 bathrooms, 3 bedrooms, basement, 3 car garage and location, location, location. We love our cul-de-sac where we don’t have to worry about the kids playing near a busy street.

  • Kelly says:

    1. Attached garage (not integral); hauling babies and groceries up stairs is not for me!

    2. Laundry room on the main floor or upstairs. No basement laundry room!

    3. A kitchen with lots of storage space.

  • Danielle says:

    I did the “if it doesn’t look good in the pictures then I won’t look at the house” when we were looking for houses too. So, when I saw the pics of the house we purchased, I passed it up because I thought the wallpaper in the kitchen was U-G-L-Y and never gave it a thought. Then when we were driving in an area we wanted to live and saw this particular house, I loved the outside and wondered why I didn’t have my realtor set up a time to look at it. So, once I was inside, I realized that it had everything we wanted and wallpaper is an easy fix. So, we put beadboard in the kitchen over the wallpaper and it was a happy ending for us. Sometimes the pictures online don’t do a particular house justice, so if you find one in the area that you like, and it does have all the features you are looking for, sometimes it does pay to go view it even if the pics don’t look great!

  • Andrea Stahl says:

    I bought my house when I was 24, by myself, a huge feat. I did have my father to help with advice, but in this area it was just as expensive to buy as to rent. I did have to buy a little further out of the city limits, but I grew up in the country, and the commute is not bad.
    I have since married and had a daughter. We are planning more children, so we will need to hunt for a bigger house soon.
    My must haves…. a big kitchen, I have a galley kitchen now and I hate it! We want at least 4 bedrooms (including the master), we use one as a study room and has our computer and crafts in it. And I want a backyard! We finally built a deck, and our plants our flourishing… its an outdoor paradise, I love having my morning coffee out there!

    Good luck on your hunt!
    Andrea :o)

  • Tabitha says:

    We close on our fourth home in seven years next month. Remember it is just a house YOU make it a home! We buy in what we call 48 hour hunts. I go in the first day and narrow down the very long list of homes that are available in our price range and meet a few “necessities.” Then my husband comes in and see my top few choices. The we just make offers/negotiate until a contract is met. The house we are currently living in was my 13 choice of homes but it has been a huge blessing (the neighborhood is fabulous, the yard is huge for our two boys, and with a little paint and new fixtures it feels like home)! Have fun! Although it is stressful, it is a huge blessing to be able to buy a house! I wish you the best of luck as you purchase your HOUSE and make it a special HOME for your family.

  • Christy says:

    1. LOCATION … you can change a lot of things, but you can NOT change location!
    2. Newer construction (because more than likely it will have a open floor plan, large pantry, several bathrooms, laundry upstairs .. all of the essentials).
    3. Some land around us (for privacy, quietness AND just ample space for the kids to run & play)! We currently live in a home that is set on a postage stamp sized lot. Very noisy when you live a few feet from your neighbor. And if your neighbor’s house should catch on fire, better believe yours is going to go up too … we watched this happen a couple of streets over last winter!

    Good luck in your search! I love house hunting … can’t wait to do it again myself. 🙂

  • Beth says:

    I feel like we’ve spent years househunting, although I guess we’ve only done it three times! I understand how frustrating the process can be. I try to remember that it’s an exciting thing and such a blessing – and to tell you the truth, I kind of LIKE searching for homes online!! I totally agree about the buyer’s agent being a must-have, but I also think that doing some searching yourself isn’t a bad thing. It’s great to have the houses that are a good match emailed to you, but unless you dig online and have an idea of what’s out there, how will you know how the houses you’re looking at compare to others in your price range? I think that’s priceless info when it comes to negotiating and knowing how much the home is worth compared to the others on the market right now. So I say don’t give up searching on your own! We’ve had great buyer’s agents for all of our home purchases, and they’ve sent us lots of “matches” with homes they found that seem to perfectly match our search criteria…. but 2 out of 3 of our homes I’ve found looking on my own.

    As for our must-haves: 4 or more bedrooms (we have three kiddos, dh works from home, and all family is out of town so we get lots of houseguests), great school district, good yard on a cul-de-sac. Those are definitely our three! If I could add a few more they’d be open floor plan, all bedrooms on the same level, and a good sized kitchen and laundry space. 🙂
    Good luck with your search and try to remember to have fun with it! Hopefully you won’t be doing it again for a REALLY long time. 🙂

  • amy says:

    Mine are
    fenced in back yard, master bath, 3 bedrooms.

    And since we have that right now, we are living in the perfect house! =)

  • Jenn says:

    Attached garage (summers and winters are HARD on vehicles left outside in KS), big kitchen, 4 bedrooms (at least the possibility of it–we could live in 3 for now but would want to be able to have more in the future, like an unfinished basement).

  • Richelle says:

    1) the kitchen must be a minimum of 5 times bigger than the bathroom(s)
    2) 5 bedrooms preferably
    3) 2 bath

    We have 4 kids 5 and under. Our current home (which, sadly we own) has a galley kitchen that is scarcely bigger than our bathroom (yes we have only one). When I say “sadly, we own” our home– don’t get me wrong– I am very grateful to have a home– and that we are blessed to own ours. However, the fact that I bought the place 10 years before I had children, etc. means that it is not the best suited to our family. We are presently trying to get financially “well” enough to eventually get out of this house and into one more suited to our family. We have a lot of credit-repairing and other things to do before that can happen, so we are just trying to make the best of it in the mean time. I have shelving practically lining the whole inside of my house just so we have room to put things (necessities– not clutter). Anyway, it’ll be a while before we can get into a new home so we have some time to dream and decide on exactly what we want/need.

  • Heidi says:

    We are currently toying with the idea of moving (we currently do own a house, but would like to get out of the city) so our three non-negotiables would be:
    LARGE yard
    Out of the city
    Dining/eating area (as it is we are crammed in the kitchen with three kids at a tiny round table)

  • Cathi says:

    My dream home would NOT have stairs…our house in KY is a quad and we have lots of stairs. Since we bought the house then had a baby, we had 5 baby gates! He is older now so we only use 2 now but…what a pain! Before our house in KS, we lived in TX and AZ, both of which had nice open floor plans and I miss that. So that would be top on my list too. A nice big master and master bath would also be high on the list. And my absolute DREAM is to have a huge wrap around porch! Whenever I see one of those, I melt…

  • We just bought our first house and our #1 criteria was school district, if it wasn’t in the right school district we didn’t even give it a chance; this cut way down on houses to look at. #2 was the kitchen, my husband loves to cook and refuses to have a Gally kitchen. #3 was 4 bedrooms, and #4 we really wanted a soaker tub!

  • Shani says:

    Lots of windows, I need natural sunlight! Large yard for the kids and an open floor plan so I’m not stuck in the kitchen and everyone else is having fun in the livingroom…I like to see my guests. Although, as my kids get older, a second livingroom would be nice for when they have their friends over (male and female) so they can be loud in another room other than their bedrooms.

  • kelly says:

    a living room that can be seen from the kitchen (so I can get stuff done, but still keep an eye on my little guy playing!), a YARD (we don’t have one currently), and room to entertain comfortably and have a good space for overnight guests (even if it’s not an exact bedroom).

  • Nicole C. says:

    Ours was at least 3 bedrooms and 2 baths. Our house hunt took a LONG time. My husband found the ad for our house, it only had the picture of the front of the house, it looked so small, but it has a walkout basement (didn’t know it at the time). I was thinking Eww, from the pic, but as soon as we drove down the drive we both looked at eachother and smiled. It only got better after that. Yes, it’s an older house but it has 3 beds, 2 baths, a kitchen on the smaller side. But everything else we wanted. It may take you a while too, but you will know it when you step into YOUR house. Good luck with your house hunting!!

  • Brenda says:

    Our three were big yard for the kids, two car garage, and four bedrooms and in one particular school district. We had four none selling points for us.

  • April says:

    My fiance and I are just about to close on on our first house. Our criteria was a garage, 3 bedrooms and a decent sized yard. I would like to take a moment and say thank you! I have been following your blog for about a year now and it has helped me so much!

  • Lisa says:

    Dream features:
    Eat-in, large kitchen
    Lots of closet space
    Level yard with modest number of trees

    Do not let a picture eliminate a property!! Not every real estate agent is a professional photographer. The picture for the listing of the last house we owned was the WORST!
    Also, keep in mind mistakes may be made when listing properties (price, number of rooms, etc).

  • Laura says:

    Oh – I do have a suggestion – please remember to have the quality of the home thoroughly checked. Just walking into a home, you can’t tell if it was insulated properly, the condition of the roof (we had to replace ours and it was $9,000 -yikes), etc. It’s worth hiring a person to do a thorough check with this major purchase. Also, I would recommend purchasing a fairly new (if it’s a couple years old, you would likely get bonuses of the yard in, landscaping, blinds, etc.) if not a new home. We purchased ours new, but it is now almost 15 years old, and we’ve had to replace so many expensive items including the kitchen appliances, hot water heater, roof, carpet, and are now pricing out a furnace and air conditioning unit. Best wishes! HTH

  • Angie Thier says:

    We were recently house hunting, but then decided to not move. It is a lot of work. And about pictures – sometimes the pictures the realtor takes just kill me. They offer no real help at all. Here were our requirements:
    4 bedrooms or at least 3 bedrooms + office/game room.
    Big back yard for the kids to play in.
    semi long driveway for the kids to ride bikes on.
    Sidewalks to friendly neighbors preferable.
    ONE story. Oh, how I wish I would not have compromised on that when I bought our current house!

  • stacey says:

    1. Yard layout/neighborhood! With three boys… Shade trees, fenced if in town. Preferrably out of town, on a couple acres!
    2. Large kitchen
    3. Open floor plan (makes it seem bigger without the added square feet).

  • Angie says:

    Only 3?! 🙂 4 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms (preferably both with double sinks), large kitchen. We have the priviledge of living in a small rural community where most of the yards are large enough for us and our 3 kids. Another thing that we’re really looking for is a floor plan where the kids’ bedrooms won’t be sharing a wall with our bathroom…there’s been way too many times where we’ve ended up waking the kids up just because we were getting ready for bed. I could go on, but will stop because it would be a whole blog post! 🙂

  • candace says:

    We are in the process of trying to sell our condo (2bd/1bth) and as soon as we sell it we will start looking for a house!! We must sell first because there is NO WAY we could afford two mortgages!! Living in a condo with a dog and a kid, we have some absolute MUSTS in buying a house! To be honest the most important thing to me is a good sized yard!! The kitchen is next, I want it open to the living area and to be BIG. 4 bedrooms. And it has to be close to our church 🙂

  • Heather says:

    1. House all on one level (lived in a tri-level and hated it. Husband got me a one level. Love him for that).
    2. No sloping backyard.
    3. Kitchen that is big enough for the whole family at Christmas.
    Goodluck with the house hunt. Hope you guys find most everything on your list.

  • Ana says:

    I know what you mean when we bought our home 2 years ago it was such a long process. What we were looking for was 1. at least 3 bedrooms all in one level 2. large kitchen 3. laundry room (living in apartments, this was a must) We got all this plus a walk in pantry…God is good! Good luck in your search.

  • Ana says:

    @Tricia Young,
    I know what you mean…I grew up on a cul du sac and when we found just the perfect house for us at then end. We put up a sign with children at play and sit back and enjoy ourselves.

  • The 3 “musts” for our next house are:

    1. Sidewalks in the neighborhood
    2. A basement (you lose so much space without one! plus- I am a bit afraid of tornadoes!)
    3. 3-4 bedrooms

    Good for you for sticking to your non-negotiables. The right house is out there. We looked for about 9 months, but it was SO worth the wait! We are growing out of our “first home” now and will be pursuing another home soon- I am looking already b/c I remember how long it took & we only want to move into 1 specific neighborhood.

    Good luck!


  • Martina says:

    well we bought a home with the three requirements
    1. our Mortage Payment would be lower then the Allowances the Army gives us
    2. It had to have a yard.. we lived in a Rental before with 3 rooms and 2 windows
    3. It had to be kinda in the rual area, but close enough for my hubby to work

    we bought our fixer upper, but found out its alot more fixing then we expected.. but i think its the house God intented for us.. we have a roof over our head and we should have it paid off in 9 years.

  • Kim says:

    We aren’t searching for homes just yet, but we will soon and we have a few things we learned in our current house that are musts:
    1. The house must face west, so the sun sets in the front of the house. We love to spend time in our backyard in the evenings, and it helps when the house creates the shade.
    2. We currently live on a main road in our subdivision, and we hate it. A quiet street or a cul-de-sac is a must next time.
    3. It must be an ‘open’ floor plan. We currently have one and don’t think we could ever go back.

  • Connie says:

    Crystal, good luck in finding your home. The 3 musts are hard. We’ve built our last 2 homes from scratch, thought we had the 2nd one licked after figured out what we didn’t like about the 1st, but we just found other thing we’d change next time, LOL!

    For us right now, with a baby, an open floor plan is insanity! You can’t block anything off with gates. You basically have to follow her around 24/7. No freedom at all.

    A huge kitchen and breakfast room – no matter how many cabinets I have built, there is never enough.

    Forget the formal dining or living room. It is a waste of space and unless you can close it off (i.e. it has a door or french doors) then making it into an office is impossible, at least for someone like me who runs a business out of the house.

  • april says:

    Great Ideas
    We will be looking soon….I am very picky and after living in a home in a nice neighborhood but not so nice neighbors my #1 is NOT trashy neighbors
    2. garage in the back
    3. no pool (d0nt want the hassle)
    4. sidewalks
    5. one story

  • Definitely a large kitchen with ample counter space and a decent sized pantry. Right now we are moving from a house with a small kitchen and almost no pantry!! 2nd would be closet space for all rooms, at least some sort of walk-in for the master bedroom & room for storage in the kids rooms. And a lot of natural light throughout is something we love!!!

  • Christi says:

    1. Yard to mess with
    2. Master on 1st floor (preferably all on one floor!)
    3. Laundry and Dishwasher

  • Angel G. says:

    My three are Money making potential (must be under priced for square feet due to minor updates), location (a place that could sell on location alone), at least 3 bedrooms on one floor.

  • Sherri says:

    Three “must” haves —

    An extra bedroom — for guests or office or combination. You just need that room.

    A large kitchen with plenty of cupboards and a personal perference – windows — I love my windows over the sink – I can see my garden, all the trees — just lets in light and to see the beauty of the day.

    A garage — may sound extravagant but after living in a big house without a garage for 20+ years and five kids growing up in it, a garage would have been wonderful. Storage for that lawmower, garden tools, bikes, skateboards, snow shovels, etc. As it is and was, all that stuff is dragged into the house and down into the basement (except the lawmower). So, imagine all the dirt, mud, ice, snow and yuk walked into the house on a continual basis. Awful!! I am shampooing the rugs and mopping the foyer tile floor all the time. A lot of homes have a “mud room” you enter from the garage — great for the shoes, boots, coats, all the stuff to remove and helps keep your home in good shape.

    Above all else, have fun looking! You will know when the right one comes along! God has a special one just for your family!


  • Heather says:

    We’re paying off 20 acres & planning eventually to build a straw bale house on it. Requirements: Serious kitchen & pantry area, sewing room, “great room” layout for kitchen/dining/living room area.

  • Kim says:

    We moved into our first home last October, and we found very quickly that our list of non-negotiables came down to only one (aside from location!): a second bathroom! I am anxious to see your post about realtors, because without our very excellent one, we never could have navigated all the ins and outs of house hunting and buying…

  • Lea says:

    We wanted a large sunny backyard where we could have a garden.

  • Shelley says:

    After buying and selling 5 houses, my advice.
    1. No matter how much you love your realtor hire a real estate attorney to review your contract and closing documents. It is much cheaper to pay them a few hundred dollars to enusre everything is correct than to try to fight the title company, sellers, or agent if something happens. It seems after everyone gets paid, all cooperation stops.
    2. Think long term. The school district might not be as important to you as you are homeschooling; but when you sell, it will most likely be important to those looking at your house. Is the house going to still work for our family in 5 years? Enough bathrooms etc.
    3. The features of the house. No matter what you decide, there will always something you don’t like about the house or wish it had. If I had to pick 3.
    closets- it is hard to add more. Lack of square footage is better than lack of storage.
    laundry room- needs to be close to where you spend most of your day.
    kitchen- nothing worse than a kitchen that is too small and that people can’t gather in when they are over for dinner.
    Good Luck and have fun!!!

  • Megan says:

    I disagree about pictures. We are in the process of buying a house, and have found that some of the listings with the best pictures were really not that great, while some of the listings with horrible looking pictures turned out to be the best houses. What really annoys me is when the picture focuses on something not important- like the bed or the ceiling fan.

  • HS Mama says:

    We are currently in our 3rd house. Our first two, my hubby purchased without me seeing them in person first. So, yes, it does happen!

    Also wanted to say that you don’t necessarily need babysitters for showings. We have always brought our children, when I’ve gone. As they’ve gotten older, we tell them not to talk about the house while we’re there (and in front of the other realtor), but we will hear their thoughts when we get in the car. 🙂

    We are currently looking to downsize. We are also looking to move from the country to the city. Our 3 must-haves for our next home would be:
    1. at least 3 bedrooms
    2. walking distance to a playground (since we won’t have much of a yard)
    3. safe area

    Happy house hunting!

  • Lisa says:

    Lots of storage space in kitchen and a good sized storage area for seasonal, tools etc. NO TILE COUNTERTOPS. I have this now and hate it. Its a deal killer unless the house is prices cheap enough I can afford to put in new countertops. Space, space for the kids to run and play and explore outside.

  • Lisa says:

    a garage
    a big yard
    at least 2 bathrooms!

    we’re pretty easy to please!

  • Momof Two says:

    We’ve been looking for over a year 🙁

    Good luck. It is tiring and in the end you usually have to settle on a few things. No house is perfect.

  • Jenny says:

    Dear Crystal,

    I don’t know if you’ll read this since its like comment number 300 but I just wanted to ask you to reconsider 1 of your 3 criteria. My husband and I just moved in 2 days ago to our first home. (20% down, 15 yr mortgage in a 200k+ area, Dave would be proud!). Anyway, we waited 5 months to look at this house and then thought, what the heck, let’s just look. The pictures were UGLY and the description of 8 ft ceilings and a septic system did not sound right for us. Well, since we got this one at 10% less than market value and way underpriced for our area where average 50 yr old homes go for 250k+ and only the extreme fixer uppers or ghetto houses go for under 200K we were hesitant to come look at something at 210k where the pictures were bad.

    BUT…remember that their realtor chooses the photos. I found the realtors here put a lot more work into those 400k houses and don’t have so much time for these houses that aren’t worth as much to them in fees. So this realtor did NOT put up the fabulous recently updated bathrooms, the dining room with the 11 month old pergo wood floor or the LARGE yard photos of 0.4 acres (flat land which is a huge amount in this city with no visible neighbors on either side). IF we hadn’t come to actually look at the house we would have missed out on a good thing.

    Remember that the houses that are steals aren’t making much money for the realtors and some realtors may not put the same amount of work into selling them as they do their million dollar/luxury homes which photograph easily because they’re filled with stainless steel appliances, pools, and new paint/wallpaper. I know you’re a bargain hunter and I hope you will consider this when you’re trying to find the right home.

    Best of luck, can’t wait to see what you snare!!! Don’t forget to divulge all the juicy negotiation details! We won’t benefit from them as we already bought our house but I know a lot of your readers will!

    Best of luck and keep sharing your great deals and heartwarming stories (And more pics of those cute kiddos!)


  • Meg H says:

    I have to agree with a previous commenter, don’t let a picture be the thing that keeps you away.

    We just purchased a new home in August of 2009 after looking for six months. The house we ended up falling in love with is the one we drove by time and time again. I refused to go in and look at it because the pictures online were so bad. Thankfully we were at the house next door and our Realtor finally talked me into just walking over and taking a look. I walked into two rooms and knew it was “the one”.

  • Kendra says:

    When we bought our home almost 9 years ago we had only one child and I was newly pregnant with our second. We each had one important feature that we wanted. Mine was a LARGE back yard and his was central AC. We also required a minimum of 3 bedrooms and two full baths. What we bought met all of the criteria EXCEPT the AC!! (But I think that has actually saved us a TON of money in the long run not cooling the whole house!)
    Now with four children my criteria would be a little different.
    A LARGE backyard
    master bath
    a big kitchen
    We really compromised on the kitchen and got a tiny not very functional kitchen and I regret the 65 year old fixtures and lack of ANY space almost daily. We thought for sure that we would be ready to remodel the kitchen in a couple of years. But other necessary projects have taken the money. You cook a lot and want to have your kids in there with you. Don’t compromise on the kitchen!

  • Kendra says:

    I forgot to mention single story all the way, at least while the children are young!!

  • Amy says:

    1. landscaped yard (not super fancy, but I need trees and plants!)
    2. a nice size kitchen
    3. a beautiful porch


  • Crystal says:

    My husband and I are planning to buy our first home next year when he comes home from Iraq and we’ve already discussed the matter of a criteria list. We want to find a home in our prince range (which is particularly low) because we want a fixer upper and plan to do most of the fixing up our selves since my father has every tool imaginable considering he’s been in the remodeling buisness for 30 years! Yes I know I lucked up. 🙂 Somethings we’ve included on our list is #1 location: The house must be within a 40 minute driving distance from his place of employment (yes that’s a lot of ground we have to cover but we have time) #2 it must be in a nice neighborhood! #3 it must have atleast 3 bedrooms and 2 baths with a good floor plan so that it’s easy to add-on to. #4 it must have sheetrocked walls ( I HATE doing drywall!) #5 must have fair sized backyard. other than that we are good to go. we have a remodel fund planned so if the kitchen and bathrooms need updating we’ll be able to do so or the floors and the windows etc… you get the idea!

  • Mindy M. says:

    We are sort of looking & my husband’s first criteria is it either has to have a large enough shop/garage or a place to build one, then it has to have at least a full + a half bath (no more having 4 people squeezing in one bathroom) & for me, it has to have more than a closet for a kitchen.
    I think we have more can’t have’s than must have’s (e.g. no wood paneling, no major bathroom/kitchen remodeling, can’t be located on a busy street – been there, done that on all of those).

  • Melanie says:

    1) large kitchen that opens into living/entertaining room
    2) four bedrooms
    3) location (to school, church, work)

  • Gina says:

    1. Fenced large-enough-for-kids-to-play-in yard (and preferably privacy fenced) with windows so I can watch them.
    2. STORAGE!!!!! Closets! Kitchen cabinet & pantry space and counter space for cooking (which I currently don’t have in our galley style kitchen). Our current house was originally owned by a bachelor. We have tiny closets, no pantry, and FOUR children. Um…yeah. LOL
    3. Four bedroom, two baths.

    And as a “bonus” – a room right off the kitchen where I could have major book shelves for homeschooling. I don’t need a room to homeschool in, I like having them at the kitchen table so I can get stuff done in the kitchen while they’re doing school

  • Katherine says:

    I was surprised to read that a picture would stop you from looking at a house–house listings are not magazine layouts, afterall… Good luck in your search, and if the house is in your price range, has the right number of bedrooms/bathrooms and a good square footage, GO SEE IT! 😉

  • Michelle H. says:

    My top 3 requirements are good school district, open floor plan, and at least 2 bathrooms. We bought that house 4 months ago, and are remodeling it while trying to sell our current home. I will never EVER live in a house for sale again. With 2 kids under 4 it is so hard to keep it show-ready, and people always seem to want to see the house when the kids are napping or sick.

  • Kim says:

    Location Location Location!
    Also, don’t get hung up on how a home is decorated. Look at the space and set up. Try to look past the bad wallpaper and mustard colored bathroom tile. We got a great deal on our home and love the neighborhood and location. We are 5 minutes from church and family and 2 minutes from my children’s small Christian school. We’ve been here 5 years now and have redone almost every room in the house including the 3 baths and the kitchen. Now the house is exactly the way that we want it. We have 5 bedrooms, 4 baths(we added another when we finished the basement), a playroom, family room, living room, dining room, and kitchen. Plenty of room for our 4 children to grow up in and room for out of town guests and space to host our weekly Bible study. I don’t want to ever move again. It took a while to get to this point but it was worth it.

  • Stephanie says:


    I am just wondering if it would be easier to have a Realtor rule out homes based on your criteria and send you a weekly email with ones that match what you are looking for?

    Also in our area we have an online resource where you can put in what you are looking for and it sends updates when something is available with your criteria. We did that as well and were able to jump on new listings fairly quickly.

    When we were looking these were a couple of things that were helpful to us. We let the Realtor do the work..that’s what they get paid for 🙂

  • Raven Tran says:

    WE have been house hunting for 7 months, We’ve decided to wait 2 more years to pay more down if not 100%! ( you’ve been a huge inspiriation on that!

    our criterias never changed even from location to location..

    1.) Safety!

  • Raven Tran says:

    – safety was our first concern, with 1 3yr old and another planned soon!
    we called local Police and searched the web to find out crime ratings and activities in the surrounding areas ( as well as S*X offenders!)

    2.) School district.
    – We both work fo rthe goverment and have long hours. Child care is enevidable and I can’t homeschool liek i’d prefer, but with before and afterschool costs already budgeted i can not afford privet school or tutors, so school ratings are a huge sway for me! We’ve even looked at houses 500 sqr/ft smaller for the same price becuase it was near award winning public schools!

    3.) The first impression. If i can’t imagine my family living in the space.. if i have to knock down walls, or completely redo a kitchen, squeeze our exisiting life into a home that dosn’t “feel” us.. it’s most liekly not “US”!
    Example. I walked into an older home last month. the tile was retro, the kitchen was homey and I imediatly started talking about how I couldnt wait to prepair dinner, and serve it in the actual dinning room while our son worked on home work in the attached office space. It worked for us, right off the bat!

    With each home will come compermise. It may not be EVERY thing you wanted or right next door to your best friend.. but when you find the right home, you’ll feel it in your gut. Dont force it.

  • Winter says:

    A good sized kitchen; at least 1 bedroom on the main floor, preferably 2; and a basement that is clean and in good condition- not gross, not dark, not grungy.

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