I am thinking of buying a home and I keep hearing advice that I should look for a property that “meets my needs.” What does this really mean?

A long time ago, when considering a new car, I read an excellent article that suggested I buy something that meets 95 per cent of my daily needs, and not worry about things I wouldn’t use much.

I think the same concept applies to buying a home. Most of us can’t have everything we would love, so we should focus on the things that matter most, most of the time.

One way to approach this is to take a careful look at how you spend time in your current living space — what you like about it and what is lacking — and then come up with some priorities that you can pass along to your real estate professional in preparation for the house hunt.

Do you spend a lot of time in the kitchen? Do people tend to congregate there? A large kitchen can be great for the chef and those who entertain regularly. But for those who like takeout and prepared foods, and don’t entertain much, that big kitchen is just a waste of space.

For sports fans, regardless of your sport of choice, consider your viewing habits. If your home becomes a gathering spot for watching sports, you may want a large living room or a den.

Do you like to spend your spare time in your bedroom with a book? Well, make sure the bedrooms are the sizes you want with enough room for a couch or comfy chair.

If the great outdoors is your thing, look for a property that gives you the opportunity to be outside the way you like it. Is sitting outside on a deck with your morning coffee a bonus or a way of life for you? Maybe just a small porch or balcony will do.

Or maybe you do want that big yard and plan to do a lot of gardening. But remember too that the larger the property, the more time you will spend on upkeep. That huge yard can be great for the kids, but it’s a lot of work. Maybe a smaller property with access to a park is a better way to go.

What about a garage? With our harsh winter climate, a garage to park your car may be a priority for you. But whether it holds three cars or is attached to the house may be “nice-to-have” options.

The key takeaway is: focus on the things that are essential to making your home the right one for you. Having something you might use only rarely while forgoing something you would use every day is what buyers should be weighing when looking at a home’s features.

Establish your “must haves” and your “nice-to-haves.” Look for a property that will meet your most important needs so that your home is a place you want to be.

And if the home you find happens to have a hot tub as a bonus, all the better.

This column is for general information purposes only and is not meant as legal or professional advice on real estate transactions.

Joseph Richer is Registrar of the Real Estate Council of Ontario (RECO). He is in charge of the administration and enforcement of all rules that govern real estate professionals in Ontario. You can find more tips at reco.on.ca, follow on Twitter @RECOhelps or on YouTube at http://www.youtube.com/RECOhelps.

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