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MLS Listings- What Are Your Non-Negotiables?

The MLS, or Multiple Listings Service, is one of your most useful tools in the search for a home. Real estate agents have access to the actual MLS, which is a database of all the homes for sale in a specific area or region. The MLS contains useful information about the homes, including things like number of bedrooms, lot size, additional features like pools, school districts, and more.

The best thing about the MLS is that you can use it to save yourself time and money that you would waste looking at homes that don’t meet your standards, or that don’t have the features you require. Your agent can input those features into a search which will then show you only listings within those parameters. But first, you must know what your parameters are. These are features that you absolutely need a home to have, features that you will not negotiate upon.

While it might seem close-minded to have “non-negotiables,” or it might seem like it will make the search longer, these will prevent you from buying a house that ends up not working for you and your family. And keep in mind that these features aren’t just things that would be nice, or that you can add to the house later for very little cost (like a certain kind of carpet). These are things that you need in order to have a functional, comfortable life in a home.

Think first about the number of rooms you need. Do your kids generally share rooms, or do they each need their own? Do you need an office because you work from home? Do you have overnight visitors frequently, so that you need a guest room? How many bathrooms does your family require? What about the number of stories in a house- does anyone in your family have trouble negotiating stairs?

Next, think about the lot size you’re after. Families with growing kids or big dogs might need more room to run around outside than families whose kids are out of the house, or those who don’t plan to have children or pets. Do you plan to plant a large vegetable garden? Or would you prefer a townhouse with a small yard that is maintained by the homeowner’s association? Are you going to be willing to mow the grass every weekend during the summer on an acre lot?

Finally, think about features of a home that are necessary for your specific lifestyle. Perhaps you need a two car garage, not a one car. Is a finished basement for entertaining something you have to have because you often throw parties for work? Do you do so much laundry that you really need a separate laundry room? Take a day and pay attention to the layout of your current home- what is lacking?

Once you have the list ready, give it to your agent. He or she will compile a report that best meets these needs, and you can then start viewing homes!