Making a wish list of “must-haves” in your new home is essential to every successful home search. With this list, you can pinpoint homes that you actually want to see versus homes that aren’t worth your time. However, the more houses you see the longer that wish list seems to become and chances are you are not going to check off every box on your list. In other words, you are going to have to make some compromises somewhere.

Plus, in the current market where inventory is low and with competition from other buyers, you may feel pressured to go astray from your wish list in order to land an home. For the more part, this is fine; it’s important to be flexible. However, there are certain things on your wish list where you should stand your ground.

Buying a Fixer-Upper When You Want Turn-Key

If you aren’t one for manual labor, that doesn’t mean you won’t fall in love with a rustic, old farmhouse that could use a little TLC.  However, you have to be ready to take on the financial and emotional challenges of a major renovation. Buying a fixer-upper is an option you should seriously consider if you are in a highly competitive market. However, if you don’t think your bank account or relationship can survive months of renovation, stick to your guns and insist on a turnkey home.

Good School District

Buying a home in a good school district has benefits for everyone, even if you don’t have kids. Good school districts typically translate to higher resale value. So in a few years when you are ready to sell, your home will not only sell fast but for a better price tag. Just make sure to do your research and determine where the home sits in relation to the school district boundaries.

Floor Plan

If the home does not fit your minimum criteria in terms of the number of bedrooms and the flow of the main living areas, cross it off your list. Buying a home with a good layout with save you money and frustration down the road. It may be easy to knock down a wall to create an open concept but adding a bedroom or bathroom is a whole other monster.

The Neighbors

During your search, it is just as important to check out the surrounding neighborhood. Are the homes well-kept or do they look abandoned? The condition of the properties around you can affect your future resale value and they can drive you crazy. You can change everything about your home if you want but you can’t do anything about your neighbors annoying barking dog.


You have probably already set a limit on how much you are willing to spend on a home and it is important you not budge from that number. However, you should also consider the additional costs beyond the listing price. Meaning you need to set a budget for monthly payments, HOA dues, utility costs, and real estate taxes. Your lender will give you a pre-approval letter and tell you how much house you can afford. However, this is just one piece of the puzzle because the cost of homeownership can still land you in debt.

Commute Time

If you have already budgeted a 30-minute commute, don’t let someone sway you into anything longer. Sometimes buyers fall in love with all the features of a house that is an hour away from work. Until you have actually driven the route to and from your potential home, at the times you will be commuting, you should never consider compromising. In larger cities, being just a few miles away from the highway can add an hour of commuting.


If you own one or more cars, you will definitely want a guaranteed place to park. Whether that means an enclosed garage, driveway, or assigned parking. There are many communities that now restrict outside parking, guest spaces, and overnight parking, which could be a real nightmare. To avoid the frustration, don’t be swayed away from what you want.