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Preparing for Homeownership

Define Your Buy Box

Jesse C. Vaughan | 25 Jun 2019

I often hear startup founders speak of changing the world. When I think about the kind of company I want us to build, I prefer to focus on the kind of change we can make to individual lives. I believe that if we empower people to make better decisions for themselves, world-changing will follow. At Landed, we’ve built a company on the premise that if we help people make smart financial decisions, both the company and our customers will win.

For most of us, buying a home is the largest financial investment we will ever make. In this series of blog posts, I’m going to focus on three important topics: 1) building a home purchase “buy box,” 2) gathering the information required to make an informed decision, and 3) applying effective decision-making frameworks to the homebuying process.

How to Define Your Buy Box

In my experience, fighting the inevitable tide of emotions is the most difficult battle we must wage in the homebuying process. Having a good plan and some useful frameworks can help us avoid feeling overwhelmed.

The first step to success in your homebuying journey is to define your specific goal. What are you looking to achieve as a result of your home purchase? Is it more space? A shorter commute? A yard? Are you looking to get into a specific school district? Define what needs to be true about your home for you to achieve your goals – before you start looking at homes.

One tool used by professional investors (that is just as applicable to homebuyers) is called a “buy box.” A buy box is a conceptual framework used to define the criteria of a purchase. Your homebuying buy box is a framework that describes the home you want to buy before you see it.

Define Your Buy BoxAt a minimum, your buy box will include the following categories:

  • Location;
  • Property type (such as single family home or condominium);
  • Size and number of rooms; and
  • Price

When describing your home’s characteristics, you may want to determine which characteristics are “must haves” vs. “nice to haves.” For example, you may determine you need to be in a certain school district (a must have) but that you could live without all three bedrooms (a nice to have).

At Landed, we’ve found that defining your specific goal (and establishing the criteria required to meet that goal) is one of the most important parts of the homebuying process. If you have any trouble with this process, your Landed point person can help you define your buy box. Your Landed partner agent is also an expert in the local market you’re considering and can help you weigh tradeoffs relative to your personal circumstances.

Make sure to write down your buy box and share it with the people who matter. Get feedback from people you trust about the criteria you’re considering.

Once you’ve established your buy box, you can use it as a filter; only the properties you want to focus on flow through. Remember that you don’t need to do all this work alone, either. Make sure your agent understands what you’re looking for, and your agent can filter properties for you.

Over time, you will probably update your homebuying criteria based on new information you find. The home search process can be long and difficult, and there may be properties that appeal to you that don’t fit your long-term objectives. It’s easy to become overwhelmed and to lose sight of why you decided to purchase a home in the first place. If you want your home search to be effective and efficient, it’s important to establish a way to filter properties in order to help you stay focused on your goal. Creating a buy box is the best way I’ve found to do this and to achieve homebuying success.

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Preparing for Homeownership

About the Author

Jesse C. Vaughan

Jesse is the Co-Founder at Landed, where he thinks about how to make homeownership better. He believes in the power of building wealth to help people free themselves from fear.

Looking for Landed's down payment program? Due to a temporary unavailability of DPP investment funds, all Landed metro areas are being put on a DPP waitlist effective September 8, 2022. You can read all the details (including FAQs) here if you would like to know more.