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Deciding between needs and wants when purchasing a home

July 17th 2017 by Amanda Perkins

The decision to purchase a home is one of the biggest decisions of your life.  It’s a huge financial and emotional purchase, so it needs to be representative of your lifestyle, and your budget.  It can be difficult to make the hard choices of what you absolutely need to have in your new home vs. things that you want and would be nice to have. Drawing the line between these can be quite the struggle. It’s important to consider things like, why you are moving? How much space do you need? Are you downsizing or needing more space?  How important is location?  Should you buy new or re-sale? Condo or Home?  In the city or in the suburbs? Do you need these items now or can they wait?

Creating a list of items that are must haves vs. wants is a great way to start your house hunting journey (after your mortgage pre-approval that is).  Especially if you are buying with someone else, this list is a great way to discuss what is really important to each of you and what items you may be willing to sacrifice for the greater good.

For a real-life example, I am currently living in a new construction condo, knowing, overtime our needs will change when considering our next home.

When we bought our condo as a pre-construction a few years ago, our list looked something like this:


  1. 1 -2 bedrooms
  2. Minimal maintenance
  3. Close to the GO train for commuting
  4. Well under our price range as we were first time home buyers and were very focused on budget


  1. Move in ready (hence the choice of pre-construction)
  2. Lots of time to save more money for new furniture as it was our first place and easing the financial burden of our new homeowner lifestyle
  3. Close to open space or park lands
  4. Young neighbourhood

Now, looking at our needs and wants for our next home, things have changed a bit.


  1. Close to the Go train or easily accessible for commute.
  2. More space than current condo.
  3. 3+ bedrooms
  4. Backyard space
  5. Not a complete fixer upper but does not need to be fully renovated (we are willing to get our hands dirty with this place).
  6. Open park space or trails for walking
  7. Open concept or can be easily made into open concept living 


  1. In our same neighbourhood
  2. As renovated as possible
  3. Fenced in backyard
  4. Remodeled Kitchen
  5. Finished basement
  6. Backyard Deck
  7. Nice front yard curb appeal
  8. Preferably a detached home.

Once you have narrowed down your list, bring this to your agent and start your house hunt!  Remember, that list may need to be trimmed again once the search begins. Focus on the items most important to your lifestyle and budget.  Plenty of time for your want list in the future!