Fab Real Estate Blog: Buyers: Keep an Open Mind - Needs vs. Wants vs. Must-Not-Haves

Buyers: Keep an Open Mind - Needs vs. Wants vs. Must-Not-Haves

Yesterday we experienced some sunshine and warmth, which has been rare here in New Fairfield, Connecticut for the past few weeks.

So, we took advantage of the nice weather and spent about an hour cleaning up our yards a bit from the winter storms...picking up sticks and small branches that were scatted across the lawns...removing some rocks that heaved up during the cold...the usual outdoor spring cleaning.

While walking up our driveway, picking up sticks, we started laughing.  Our driveway is long and steep, and part of it is shared with the house next door.  So, we were laughing about how we ended up with such a driveway...

When we were looking for a new home, we knew what we needed to be happy: 

  • 5 bedrooms (or perhaps 4 + an office)
  • A large family room 
  • A home in the towns of New Fairfield, Redding or Ridgefield, Connecticut
  • Privacy
  • Privacy
  • More Privacy

We knew what we wanted, but didn't necessarily need.  These items would be a bonus if we found them in our new home:

  • A new or newer home  (got it)
  • Large rooms  (got it)
  • Formal living and dining rooms  (got it)
  • 3-Car Garage  (didn't get it)

We also knew what we in no way would accept in our new home:

  • A steep driveway (it snows here, after all)
  • A shared driveway (what if we don't like the neighbors we have to share with?)

Guess what?  We now live in a beautiful, newly-built, 4 bedroom + office, New Fairfield, CT residence with 7 wooded acres (there's that privacy!), large rooms, formal living and dining rooms.  We only have a two-car garage, but we can't really complain about that.

drivewayGuess what else we ended up with?  A long, long, steep driveway, with guardrails, and a portion of it is shared with the house next door that was built just after ours. So much for our two must-not-haves.

But, we make the best of it.  The long, steep driveway is the reason our lot is so private.  As it turned out, privacy was more important than the driveway issues.  While there are homes around us, they are not very near to us thanks to our acreage and the woods.  (We prefer to call it the forest!)  In the summer, when the trees are full of leaves, it feels like we're living in our own private rain forest.



We now refer to the shared portion of the driveway as the "private road."  It sounds kind of cool when you put it that way, doesn't it?  The new neighbors - the ones we share the driveway with - moved in last fall.  We've become friends. And, yes, they fully offered to split the cost of a snow plow service for the winter!

So, to get back to the laughter...
We learned while searching for our new home to keep an open mind.  We ended up with the two items we refused to even consider - the steep and shared driveway.  But we also got everything we needed in a new home, and nearly everything we wanted in our new home, too.  This house and its lot was perfect for us.  So we were able to adjust our mindset and compromise on the must-not-have issues.


When searching for your new home, keep an open mind.
Speak to a lender and obtain a pre-approval for financing.  This way you know exactly what price range to be looking in.
Make a list of your must haves.
Make a list of your wants.
Make a list of your must-not-haves.

Review this list frequently.  Don't be afraid to make adjustments.  No one home will ever be perfect.  Compromise is essential.  Discuss often with your home-buying-partners (including your agent) which compromises are possible and which are not.

Enjoy your home search.  While it may seem stressful and confusing at the time, you will look back at it with fond memories.

And, who knows?  Perhaps you, too, will someday be walking up your steep, shared driveway laughing about how you swore you would never own a steep, shared driveway!

Don Fabrizio-Garcia
Owner of a wonderful home with a shared, steep driveway
Connecticut Real Estate and Homes for Sale


Comment balloon 9 commentsDon Fabrizio-Garcia • April 13 2007 10:18AM


I sell real estate in a resort town. Nobody needs a second home but a lot of people want one. Makes it very interesting.

Posted by Greg Cremia (Shore Realty of the Outer Banks) about 12 years ago
Hi Greg - We have a second-home market on our lake here in town (though it is an admittedly small portion of our market).  But, even then, what they think they want may change drastically once they have started looking at homes.  Buyers just need to keep an open mind!
Posted by Don Fabrizio-Garcia, Owner/Broker/Trainer - Fab Real Estate (Fab Real Estate) about 12 years ago
Don, I'm so jealous hearing of your 7 acres and your shared steep driveway.  I have a shared driveway (not steep) with neighbors who will not share the cost of anything so your new neighbor is worth their weight in gold!  Hey, if I move there, maybe we can partner up!  Oh gosh, if only.... 7 acres... 7 acres..... 
Posted by Catherine Myers, Walnut Creek, CA Real Estate (Windermere Bay Area Properties) about 12 years ago
Hi Catherine - Yes, those 7 acres are like a dream come true for us.  It's private, it's beautiful, and since it's wooded, not too much upkeep yet we have our very own woods to hike in with the kids.  If the new neighbors ever decide to sell, I'll be sure to let you know!
Posted by Don Fabrizio-Garcia, Owner/Broker/Trainer - Fab Real Estate (Fab Real Estate) about 12 years ago
You made me laugh.  I hear my clients tell me all the time what they are looking for and then when they come back with their Purchase and Sales Agreement they have bought something completely different.
Posted by Philip Turner, Mortgage Banker Since 1980 (MCCUE MORTGAGE COMPANY) about 12 years ago
Hi Philip - Glad you got a laugh out of it!  We really do still laugh over the driveway.  Surprisingly, even when it snows, it's not nearly as bad as we thought it would be.  Our plow guy becomes our favorite friend each winter.
Posted by Don Fabrizio-Garcia, Owner/Broker/Trainer - Fab Real Estate (Fab Real Estate) about 12 years ago

I agree; the list of 'must haves' and 'must not haves' is an essential starting point...but many times it's far from the end result!

Posted by Kate Seif-Earlston (Realty World Booth and Deutsch) almost 10 years ago

Kate - Exactly.  The list of must-haves and must-not-haves is a starting point. With an open mind, this list may adjust many times and look very different in the end.

Posted by Don Fabrizio-Garcia, Owner/Broker/Trainer - Fab Real Estate (Fab Real Estate) almost 10 years ago
I've had a great time slnibtmug upon your site! The information you provide is very useful and I'm sure others will appreciate it, too!
Posted by Ronorld over 7 years ago