Buying a new home isn’t so different from building one. If you start with a solid foundation, you’ll probably create a great home. Many home shoppers move through the new home shopping and buying process in the wrong order. Rather than sitting down to decide what they want or need in their new home, and then going out and finding it, they started looking at new homes and communities first, and then decided what they want in their new home based on what they’ve seen.

It may sound simple, but the most important thing to do before you start the new home purchase process, and especially before you enter your first model home, is to understand why you want a new home. Is it because your family is growing or that you desire a better school for your children? Is it because the community development is encroaching on your neighborhood and or you feel threatened by growing crime numbers in the area? Have your children left the house, or have you had a divorce, and you need less space? Is it because your current home is falling apart and inefficient, or are you tired of apartment living? Did you recently get a raise and want a nicer home?

All of these are great reasons to move, but to ensure you end up purchasing the perfect new home, you should know why you want a new home, or you run the risk of buying a home that doesn’t really satisfy the main reason you wanted to move in the first place. The fact is, there are probably a few critical reasons that you feel you need to move, and you should understand and explore all of them from the most important on to the least. As you begin, take a moment to write all the reasons why you want to move down on a sheet of paper. Some will be easy to think of, and others may take a little time. Don’t be concerned if the list gets very long. Buying a home is an important decision. Get as much information as you can before you get too deep into the process, and remember, you can always add or remove things to the list as you go.

Approaching this step carefully and thoroughly will give you the confidence to know that whatever homes you see, real estate agents you speak with, or new home salespeople you encounter, you’ll have an internal personal guide to keep you squarely on track.

Why To… and Why Not
Once you’ve spent a little time on the positive reasons why you want to move, it’s time to take a look at your current residence and list all the things you don’t like about it. This list will be filled with negatives about your current home or apartment. Call this section, “Why I Don’t Like My Current Residence.” This list can include things like; the house is too small, the kitchen is outdated, no room for the kids to play, neighbors make too much noise, don’t like doing laundry in the common laundry room or laundromat, bad schools, no room for the kids to study, too far from work, awful traffic, no place for the kids to play, no kids in the neighborhood, too much crime, the house is unsafe, area floods, too much trash in the neighborhood, high utility bills, steep rent, too much “wasted space,” needs major renovations, outdated appliances, and HVAC systems, or there is nowhere for visiting parents to stay when they visit.

You’ll see that some of the items on these lists are just opposite sides of the same issue (more bedrooms / not enough space), and others are completely unique or standalone. It’s If you see something that appears in some form on both your “Why” and “Why Not” lists, it’s probably something that you need to consider including in your next new home or neighborhood.

Next, you should create a list of all the things that you like about your current home and would like to include in your next one. Call this list “Why I Like My Current Home.” If your family spends a lot of time in front of the television together in the media room, then you may want to include a media room in your next home. You may like the location of your current home, or the fact that the master bedroom is away from (or close to), the children’s bedroom. You may have a utility or mudroom in your current home and want to include it in your next one. If you like your big yard, you may want to get something similar down the road. There are certainly some things you like about your existing home. Take stock of those things and write them down to make sure you don’t leave those things behind when you start looking at new ones.

Finally, take an honest look at why moving may not be a good idea right now. If you’re in the middle of a job or relationship change, a relative’s illness, or a job change or pay cut, this may not be the right time to move. If the economy has changed a bit, and there is some uncertainty in your professional life, now may not be the best time. If mortgage rates have gone down, you may want to wait until they get lower. There may be a few good reasons that you should not move at this time, or at least wait a bit before you take the first step toward new homeownership.

Once you’ve completed all the “Why” lists, you’ve taken the first step toward finding the perfect new home. I realize that it sounds corny, but knowing all your “Why(s)” will make you a wise new home shopper!