Buyers: What’s On Your Big Three List?

I was driving around some familiar neighborhoods this past weekend and got to thinking about my own house hunt. In fact, a few streets I was driving through were in the area my wife and I included in our own search just over four years ago.

It got me thinking about our Big Three List.

The Big Three List is the name my wife and I gave to our must-have items, which essentially derived from us sitting down and saying, “OK, what are the THREE THINGS we cannot live without in a house?” This stood as the backbone to every house, and the necessary criteria in our search before we even considered checking one out. It’s a practice I still use to this day when working with buyers.

Our Big Three List included:

  • At least 3 BRs
  • 1.5 – 2 Baths
  • Formal dining room

Anything in addition to those requirements was fair game.

We also created a list of “Nice to Haves,” in which we’d be happy with at least one out of three items, including:

  • Fenced-in backyard
  • Garage (1 – 2 car, we weren’t picky here)
  • Eat-in kitchen (which wasn’t high priority since a formal dining room was a definite for us)

The first house we submitted an offer on was 3 BR, 1.5 Bath, with a formal dining room. That checked off our Big Three.

It did have a detached 1 car garage, but did not have an eat-in kitchen or fenced-in yard. Since we had the formal dining room, we didn’t mind the lack of an eat-in kitchen (but we wouldn’t have said no if it had one). So this then narrowed our list down to two items, leaving only the fence as our missed item (and we planned to put up our own within a year or so of moving in).

Unfortunately that house did not work out for us for reasons outside of our control. It was subsequently taken off the market, and we once again found ourselves on the prowl. While disappointed, we weren’t the least bit discouraged. Our process had worked.

Fast forward to today. The second house we formally placed on offer on is the one we are living in. It had each of our Big Three items and TWO of our nice-to-haves (fenced-in yard, 2-car garage). In fact, we were able to situate the kitchen in such a way that we even have our own breakfast nook. So really, we went 3-for-3 on each of our lists after all was said and done.

Our biggest take away from the entire ordeal was this: You don’t know until you sit down and talk it through just how close (or far) you and your significant other may be from one another in terms of what you want in a house. In fact, if you’re reading this and you’re in the market to buy soon, I would recommend this as the very first step you take in your house hunt. It will save you a lot of trouble and time. Why look at a house if it doesn’t have what you’re both looking for?

Remember, everyone’s Big Three List will be different, and that’s obviously fine. This is entirely about what works for you.