Before getting carried away with a list of features your dream home should have, it is best to define what it is that you want in a home versus what it is that you actually need. Often things that were once seen as a must-have aren’t that important when lifestyles and circumstances change.

When it comes to finding the right home, it is best to sit down and think about what it is that you really need – and not just what you want. After some contemplation, you may find that the ideal home for you and your family is not what you initially thought it would be. You may want a large home with a garden and room for entertaining, only to find that your lifestyle and busy schedules wouldn't allow for it and a low-maintenance, lock-up-and-go property would suit you better. Carefully considering your lifestyle will help you to create a list of what is truly needed.

You should ask yourself, what do I need from my home? The keyword to remember is ‘need’. When it comes to making a major financial commitment such as purchasing a home, or for that matter any life-changing decisions – a need should always trump a want. The challenge is separating and determining the difference between a need and want.

Here are a few considerations to help you determine whether you are looking for a property with the right mindset:

Create a list

A great way to organise one’s thoughts is to put pen to paper. Create a list with two columns – one for wants and the other for needs. The needs column should include elements such as location, school zones, neighbourhood, budget, number of bedrooms, features and amenities, stand size, number of garage spaces, Home Owner’s Association, and Body Corporate details where applicable. The wants column is for the aspects that are regarded as nonessentials such as the specific style of the home, renovated kitchen or bathrooms, deck, swimming pool, hot tub, flooring material, fireplace or wood stove, window material, and landscaping.

Consider your future plans

A major consideration is how long you plan to stay in the property. This aspect in itself can have a massive impact on your needs and wants. If you are planning on staying in the home for five years or longer you should think about possible upcoming life changes. These could include having a baby or accommodating an aging parent. While the home may not currently have an extra bedroom, could it be added to meet your future needs?

Be prepared to compromise

Searching for a new home and going through the buying process can be exhausting. However, being realistic will ease your mind and reduce stress. Life often indoctrinates people by telling them they need certain aspects to be happy. It is best to take a step back and ask what truly makes you happy. The answer to that question will be unique to everyone - if a large garden will make you and your family happy, then make that that a need. However, be prepared to compromise on other wants if necessary. Spend time defining your lifestyle and what you could forgo in order to be happy in your home.

Determining the difference between a want and need will make the decision aspect of the home buying process far easier. While buying a dream home is a good aspiration to have, it is more important to buy the right home.