Buying a home can be quite the exciting experience. You spend time searching properties online. You see plenty of pictures that inspire you to dream. Eventually you start looking at houses in person. It is then that you realize your quest will not be as easy as you thought. You realize there is a difference between what you want and what you can live with.

Even second- and third-time buyers struggle with this concept. At the end of the day, finding exactly what you want at the right price is rare. You either pay more to make your dreams come true or you settle with the best you can find in your price point. Sometimes, that reality is like cold water in the shower.

Determining What You Can Live With

CityHome Collective, a Salt Lake City firm that deals in real estate and interior design, says that the best way to approach a hot seller’s market is to start by determining exactly what you can live with. This is a bare-bones exercise.

Maybe your family consists of you, your spouse, and two children. Four bedrooms would be nice. A four-bedroom home would give you bedrooms for you and your children separately, plus an extra room for guests. But do you need four bedrooms? For day-to-day living, no. You can live with two bedrooms.

Assess the rest of your needs the same way. What is the bare minimum you need to get by in the kitchen? How many bathrooms do you absolutely need? Before you roll your eyes, there is a point to all of this. What you absolutely need represents your starting point. If you think you need more than you really do, you may be setting yourself up for a tremendous disappointment.

Determining What You Want

With your needs established, you can begin adding what you want to the equation. CityHome Collective recommends creating a list of priorities. In addition to your basic needs, what do you want most? Put that first on your list. Then go from there. Prioritize your wants until you have a list that represents your ideal home.

It’s perfectly fine to present your real estate broker with both needs and wants. Let them look at listings that fit both. You can take a look at whatever they find. In the meantime, you are keeping the budget in the back of your mind. Just ask yourself one question: how hard and fast is the budget?

It’s fine if you think you have room to go higher. But if that’s the case, it is a wise idea to set a hard limit. What is the absolute most you can spend and still be able to pay all of your bills? Once you have that number, scale back by 5-10%. Why? Because there are always unexpected expenses. You don’t want to live on credit cards. You should have some room in your budget to save.

Reconciling the Two

You are now working with your agent based on what you can live with and what you want. Unless a miracle happens, you are likely going to have to reconcile the two. The chances of you finding exactly what you want aren’t all that great. But that’s okay because you can take what you get and make it everything you want it to be.

Buying a house is rarely as romantic as it seems. It is very practical and hands-on. Go into it with the right mindset and all will be well. Approach it with unrealistic expectations and you are bound to be let down.