Why You Should Create a Needs & Wants List When Buying Real Estate

Posted by Jerad Cox on Monday, December 15th, 2014 at 12:28pm.

Creating a real estate needs & wants list is a great way to get the home buying process going. It is important that you have a clear number of wants and needs on the list, and that there are the right number of each. Having too few or too many may complicate the process later on!

Real Estate Needs & Wants

The first question that home buyers when I suggest they create this list is "how many should be on it?". This is a great question, and completely depends on your situation. The general rule of thumb is that you list in total should have between 10 and 20 items on it. This surprises people for different reasons; some people think that this is too large a list, while others state that the list is way too small. That's why it's the perfect size. Here's a few reasons why it should be this long:

  • Having a list longer than 20 items will make it very difficult to satisfy. I have found in this scenario that a home buyer who has  a list this long either a) reduces the list down, b) is not satisfied with any home they see, or c) has to build a custom home themselves at great time and expense to get everything on the list.
  • Having a list too short won't allow you to narrow down your focus. When the list is too small, then a buyer is always saying 'yes' to every home they see. The reality is that a buyer needs to say 'yes' only once and 'no' many more times than that. As a result a buyer becomes disappointed with their home purchase a year or two after they move in and want to move again.

Your need list should have the basics listed - having a need for a 8 person Jacuzzi is not a realistic need. However, filling in your needs list with the following requirements are vital: price, bedrooms, baths (full and half), location, parking(for some), location, and access to amenities are a good place to start. There may also be schooling and transportation needs that are specific to your situation as well that you may want to add in. A simple rule of thumb for your needs list should be that anything that is missing on this list should pretty much be a deal breaker for purchasing it. Your want list shouldn't be deal breakers, but conveniences that would help you make your decision and something that could be added on later if needed.

The Best Real Estate Needs & Wants List

Your list should be a mixture of needs and wants - but what is the right mix? I have found that if you have 1/3 needs and 2/3 wants then you are on the right track. Also try to prioritize your wants in order of importance so that it becomes an easier checklist once you start viewing homes for sale.

Here is a sample of a needs/wants list that a home buyer should have starting out:


  • Price under $500000
  • Minimum 3 Bedrooms
  • Minimum 2 Bathrooms
  • Must be within 15 minute drive of work


  • Garage (2 car would be nice)
  • Large yard
  • Fully finished basement
  • Elementary school within 5 blocks
  • Large kitchen
  • Ensuite bathroom off of master bedroom
  • Quiet street
  • Energy efficient

Once you have  a list like this one in place, it will be easier to look at Edmonton MLS listings online to see what properties fit for you.

Remember that ideally buying real estate should be a well thought out exercise, and making a needs & wants list is an excellent way to start the thinking process!

3 Responses to "Why You Should Create a Needs & Wants List When Buying Real Estate"

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