How to Create A Home-Buying Wish List Template

By Stacey Leasca · July 07, 2023 · 7 minute read

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How to Create A Home-Buying Wish List Template

Are you thinking about hunting for a home or already hitting the open houses? If so, creating a home-buying wish list can help you identify what you need, what you want, what to avoid, and other key factors in your decision of whether to bid on a property or not.

By getting these thoughts down on paper (or an online document), you can better focus your house hunting and have a guide as you navigate this process.

Here, you’ll learn more about creating a home-buying wish list template and zooming in on the right property for you. It will also help you steer clear of falling for a house that can wind up being a bad fit as time passes.

What Is a Home-Buying Wish List?

A home-buying wish list is a simple template that can help you identify and prioritize the features you are looking for in a home. It gives you a method to evaluate whether a property is one to bid on or one to pass on.

For example, a wish list can help you zero in on the price you want to pay, the community you want to be in, the style and size of the home, the acreage of the property and outdoor features, and other variables.

By having a wish list, you can stay on target. Say you fell in love with a charming farmhouse with shutters and perfect window boxes full of flowers, but no ground-floor bathroom (or room to add one) and a roof in need of repair. If your wish list said, “Must have a ground-floor bathroom” and “Roof in good repair,” you would hopefully be able to say no to the home’s curb appeal and keep searching. That way, you may well avoid having buyer’s regret.

First-time homebuyers can
prequalify for a SoFi mortgage loan,
with as little as 3% down.

Benefits of a Home-Buying Wish List

A home-buying wish list has several pros:

•  Creating a wish list gives you the opportunity to consider your needs and wants in a home. It also will help you prioritize the features that you most want in a property.

•  A wish list can help you stay on budget. If you know that you absolutely must have a spa-style bathroom or a chef’s kitchen, you need to stay focused on finding a home that offers that or else have money set aside to renovate to those specifications.

•  By developing a wish list, you and your partner or family member you are house shopping with can align on priorities.

•  You can better understand trade-offs involved in a home purchase. For instance, if you are determined to buy in an area with a hot housing market or a pricey school district, you may only be able to afford a smaller property than you might like.

Recommended: First-Time Home-Buyer Programs

How to Create a Home-Buying Wish List

If you are ready to dive in, follow these steps to develop your wish list.

First, Daydream a Little

After you’ve closed your eyes and thought about it, write down everything you saw in the vision.

Before writing down all your wants on a home-buying wish list, sit back and fantasize a little about what an ideal home looks like. This dream house will look different to everyone, but after you’ve closed your eyes and thought about it for a while, you should write down everything you saw in the vision.

Is there a big yard and open space (or even a pool), or is it in the center of town where all the action is? Do you gravitate toward a mid-century modern home or a center-hall colonial? Does the dream home come with a big eat-in kitchen, or are lots of bedrooms more important? Is there space for a game room? An outdoor spa? A wraparound deck or a balcony overlooking it all?

It’s your dream. Go ahead and dream about home size, home age, and home style. That way, you can better realize what you really want (and want to steer clear of) in a home. Start writing down your wish list.

💡 Quick Tip: With SoFi, it takes just minutes to view your rate for a home loan online.

Whittle Down the Dream List

After spending some time thinking about what a dream home would look like if money were no object and jotting down notes, you might then start crossing things off your list.

Realistically, maybe you don’t need five bedrooms but can live with three instead, and maybe the basement doesn’t need to be finished just yet. Or, perhaps a kitchen remodel can come with lower-end appliances that look like commercial ones but come with a more manageable price tag.

Bring down that daydream list to reality before beginning the search.

Consider Who You’re Buying With, Too

Before going out to buy a home, whether you’re a first-time home buyer or old hand, it’s important to think about who’s going to live there. Is it just for one? A couple? A whole family?

It would be best to get everyone’s input on wants vs. needs to ensure that all will be satisfied with this monumental life and financial decision. You might want to sit down as a group and consider the following.

•  Setting: It may also be a good idea to get granular about your location. For instance, a potential homebuyer who has a dog may want to consider a neighborhood that has good walkability and sidewalks.

A potential buyer who works from home may want to think about how close a coffee shop is so they can pop over for a snack. Websites like Walk Score can help people discover how close cafes, shops, restaurants, grocery stores, and public transportation are to their new address.

•  The right school district: If a person is buying a new home with family members in mind, it’s important to consider every home’s school district. Websites like GreatSchools provide information on school district rankings. All users need to do is pop in the ZIP code.

Even if a person isn’t thinking about having children, school districts still may play a role in their home-buying decision. That’s because a school district can play a major part in a home’s resale value.

It may be a good idea to also draw up a neighborhood wish list.

💡 Quick Tip: To see a house in person, particularly in a tight or expensive market, you may need to show proof of prequalification to the real estate agent. With SoFi’s online application, it can take just minutes to get prequalified.

Home-Buying Wish List Template

Need some inspo for creating a home-buying wish list? Check out the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s checklist .

You can then customize it and drill down on the features that really matter to you. For instance, if you have school-age kids, you might add a line for after-school care programs; are they offered or not?

If you know you will be tight on cash for renovations, then you might get more specific about the age of key home systems, such as the HVAC, the major appliances, the roof, and so forth.

Questions to Ask While Home Shopping

In addition to running through the usual features of a home, here are a few additional points to consider:

•  Are you in an area that is prone to natural disasters? Would you, say, need flood insurance, and how much would it cost?

•  Have any additions been made to the home? If so, was the paperwork (permits and such) properly filed?

•  What are the typical monthly utility costs for the home? This may help you get a ballpark number that can help you assess your home-buying budget.

•  Is there an HOA? If so, what costs are involved, and what rules are enforced?

Recommended: What Do I Need to Buy a House?

The Takeaway

Creating a homebuying wish list helps to identify wants and needs, what is in the budget, and what everyone involved—spouse, children, pets, guests, an elder parent—can live with happily (if not ever after, for a while). Home style, size, neighborhood, and amenities come into play.

Looking for an affordable option for a home mortgage loan? SoFi can help: We offer low down payments (as little as 3% - 5%*) with our competitive and flexible home mortgage loans. Plus, applying is extra convenient: It's online, with access to one-on-one help.

SoFi Mortgages: simple, smart, and so affordable.


How do I make a house wish list?

A good place to start is with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s checklist. You can then customize the wishlist to better suit your areas of focus, such as school districts and programs, or, say, acreage and outdoor features.

How do I get my house ready to sell with a checklist?

Many home-buying sites and mortgage lenders offer downloadable checklists that help you get your house in order to sell. These typically review how to assess and enhance the exterior of your home, your property, as well as the interior. Usually, they go room by room with features for you to note and maintenance issues to potentially wrangle.

*SoFi requires Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI) for conforming home loans with a loan-to-value (LTV) ratio greater than 80%. As little as 3% down payments are for qualifying first-time homebuyers only. 5% minimum applies to other borrowers. Other loan types may require different fees or insurance (e.g., VA funding fee, FHA Mortgage Insurance Premiums, etc.). Loan requirements may vary depending on your down payment amount, and minimum down payment varies by loan type.

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