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Prioritizing Wants and Needs When Buying A Home in Montana

Buying a home in Montana can be overwhelming. There’s no two ways about it. The first thing to do is to decide what’s the most important and what can be given up if need be. What’s an essential part of your home buying strategy, and what are the parts that would be nice, but could be tabled for the time being?



Make a List

Start by making a list. Go crazy. What would your dream house be like? Fountains in the front yard, a tennis court and a full-sized swimming pool in the back. Anything goes. Then start paring it back. Start by cutting the stuff that’s obviously unrealistic. As great as those horse stables would be, an extra $100,000 just isn’t in the budget right now, so it has to go.

At this point, you’ll be left with, presumably, something that looks pretty reasonable. Now’s the time to break out that whiteboard and put those items into categories. To do this, ask yourself “Why?” Why did you list a three-car garage? If your answer is “It would be nice in the winter” you can probably categorize it as a want. If your answer is “We need the storage for our lawn care business” you can safely say that’s a need. For every item on your list, be realistic and ask yourself why.



Next, set your priorities. Which of your needs are the most important? Family of four with two teenage girls? That second bathroom is going to be pretty high up on the list. Newlyweds with no children, but planning on starting a family? The second bathroom is probably a lot lower. Speaking of plans, think about where you’ll be in five years. Handy around the house? Maybe a finished basement isn’t necessary, but you could work on that in a couple of years and even increase the value of your home. If you prioritize carefully when buying a home in Montana, it has the potential to be a great investment. 

Some elements of buying a home in Montana aren’t quite as flexible as others. Think of location; it’s hard to budge on that. When you work, and your kids go to school in Helena, you probably want to live closer to town to cut down on commute times. Related to location, you have the price. When you’re buying a home in Montana, you’ll find yourself spending a little more to live in town as opposed to something rural. Keep that in mind as you try to realistically prioritize your wants and needs. 


Think Practically

A big lawn is lovely, but do you have the time or the resources to care for it? Do you have five dogs who need space to run? A small home with a tiny yard probably isn’t practical. Have a riding mower and weekends to kill? Perhaps the big yard can go a little higher on your list. Being realistic is crucial when you’re buying a home in Montana. 

Once you’ve prioritized your needs, and the requirements for you and your family over the next several years, that’s when the fun starts. Built-in dishwasher? Awesome. Exercise room in the basement? Sweet. A secret door to another realm? If that exists, put it on the list. The important thing to remember is that these aren’t necessities, and you can’t base your search on them. If they’re there, great, and they can be used as a deal breaker between two similar properties. But your first looks and the basis of your purchase should stay with the elements you’ve placed firmly in the ‘needs’ column. 

It’s fun to discuss your dream house, but when you’re buying a home in Montana, it’s important to keep things in perspective. How much can you afford? First of all, what does your family require, and what can you learn to do without? Maybe you can do without a dishwasher for now, but will you be putting one in later? Are you open to a remodel, hopefully increasing your home’s value? These are all questions that need answers, and the most important question is “Why?” Know your reasons, and the priorities should fall into place. 

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