Did you ever have a mental picture of exactly what you wanted? Maybe it was an outfit, or a piece of furniture, or a computer. The subsequent shopping trip is always a lesson in futility, since you can hardly ever find what you've envisioned in your mind. Shopping for homes is a little like that.
Oh, we've all read about making your lists of "necessary," "nice to have," and "dream" attributes. So we make our lists, and we start our journey armed with a mental picture of our dream house, and our various lists of home features. We blaze through REALTOR.com, ignoring the 3 bedroom homes, or those without a fireplace, or without a 2 car garage.
One you start looking at homes, however, you'll find that those lists are pretty worthless. We buy a home, and a home encompasses much more than a fireplace, bathroom, or .25 acre lot. When you walk into a home that works for you, you fall in love, and I can guarantee that it won't matter how it ranks on your lists, or how closely it resembles your mental pictures. It's an emotional connection; a feeling of the stars aligning and shouting to you "This house is GREAT!"
When my husband and I started out looking for our first home, we were adamant about NOT wanting a ranch home. We were adamant about wanting a basement. We were adamant about wanting a family room. I still remember the day that we turned onto our little street - I was in love before we even saw the house. (That's a picture of our street above - how could you not fall in love?) At the end of the road stood a crappy little (really little) rancher, with a crawlspace. It was nothing of what I'd hoped to have, yet everything I ever wanted. It was love at first sight.
So, while I think making your lists sounds good in theory, in actuality, I think it's a bunch of baloney. Make your lists if you're a type A (as I am) and it makes you feel better, but look at everything in your price range/area.
Time and time again, I see clients fall in love with things that don't meet their criteria, but fulfill all their dreams.