Moving to a new home can be exciting, as you picture a perfect new space. Before you get to that point though, you and your real estate agent may have to sift through dozens of properties. It can get overwhelming — and lead to a purchase you later regret.

Defining your home needs, wants and wishes upfront can help. This allows your real estate agent to narrow down the list of properties that meet your criteria and eliminate those which aren’t worth spending time to visit. And it can give you solid ground to work from if you’re choosing between homes or negotiating price.

Use this printable checklist to define your own home shopping priorities and keep track of how each property stacks up. 

What are needs, wants and wishes?

  • Needs are features you won’t compromise on. These may include the number of bedrooms, location, garage or a wheelchair ramp.
  • Wants are high priority items, but you might be willing to make some compromises here. They might also be things you can add later. Examples might include a finished basement, newly remodeled bathrooms or a two-car garage.
  • Wishes are the extras that can push one home ahead of another or make a higher price tag worthwhile. These are items that you can easily do without. Examples could include walk-in closets, hardwood floors, solar panels or a professionally landscaped yard.

To define your priorities, it may help to think about what you do and don’t like about your current home. And remember, these are your preferences, so how you prioritize them is completely up to you!

Home Inspections

It’s important to note that this checklist doesn’t replace the need for a home inspection. A comprehensive review of the property condition, by a qualified professional, is necessary to minimize the risk of unexpected and potentially costly surprises later.

Moving Forward

Knowing what you want in a home, and where you’re willing to compromise, is an important part of moving forward with your next home purchase. Getting your finances in order is also critical and this article outlines six steps to help you prepare.

For more homebuying tools, tips and advice, visit our online Mortgage Resource Center.  To learn more about M&T mortgages and interest rates, click here.

If you’re ready to begin pre-approval or a mortgage application, get started here.  Or call us at 1-888-253-0799.

This content is for informational purposes only. It is not designed or intended to provide financial, tax, legal, investment, accounting, or other professional advice since such advice always requires consideration of individual circumstances. Please consult with the professionals of your choice to discuss your situation.

“Needs vs. Wants vs. Must-Haves Home Buyers Checklist,” Scott Teesdale, Our Family Place, posted March 2, 2021,, accessed March 22, 2023

“The Needs and Wants Checklist: A Key Homebuying Tool,” Framework Homeownership, posted April 19, 2022,, accessed March 22, 2023

“House Hunting Checklist | Home Buyers Pick Must-Haves,” Luke Feldbrugge, Homes for Heroes, updated March 23, 2022,, accessed March 22, 2023