As we kick off the new year, many new buyers are starting their property journey.

Some are taking their first steps onto the ladder, while others are picking up the search after the Christmas break.

But whether you’re new to the game or an old hand, have a big budget or very little, the trick to finding your dream home is to be willing to adapt. The art of compromise will help you to narrow down your checklist and focus on what’s essential for you.

From first home buyers to downsizers, here’s how to get the most out of your property search and compromise without letting go of what’s important.

1. Do your homework

Every home buyer starts with an idea of their dream home, but a list can really galvanise you into action. Write down everything your ideal property would feature, from the number of bedrooms to the type of building. Include practical features such as parking, as well as more whimsical ones like “sunlight”.

At this early stage, it’s fine for your list to seem unrealistic – you’re going to narrow it down later. This is your chance to really dream big.

Once you have your wish list, the fun can begin. Inspect a number of properties in your price range. At each inspection, ask lots of questions of the agent. Get a sense of price, location, aspect, parking, proximity to schools and transport, and anything else which might be important to you.

2. Focus on what’s important

After viewing several properties, you should have a pretty good idea of what you can afford. With your newfound knowledge in mind, go back to your list. Does it look hopelessly unrealistic now, or can you work with it?

Start crossing non-essentials off the list. It might be the postcode. It might be the proximity to your work. It might be that the place has “character”. It might be off-street parking, or a northerly aspect. Whatever it is, narrow down your priorities. You should be left with a refined list of essentials.

In my experience 80% is usually as close as you’ll get when you’re ticking your boxes. Your property journey is to work out what you’ll compromise on.

3. Think creatively

Every location has its quirks. It’s important to stay realistic about the kinds of housing available in your desired location. If you’re looking in Potts Point, you probably won’t find the enormous yard you’re hoping for. Penthouse apartments rarely have both city and bridge views. And if you’re after the perfect art deco apartment, is it really reasonable to hope it will come with off-street parking?

Every buyer has to give up something, but with a bit of creativity your compromise doesn’t have to feel like going without. Putting a positive spin on things can work wonders. Do you really need a lot of space, if Rushcutters Bay park is on your doorstep? And just how essential is parking if you can walk to work every day? With a bit of ingenuity, these compromises can seem like positives.

4. Renovate or detonate

If you really can’t compromise on location or size, your dream home might still be within reach if you compromise on the quality of the property. Renovating the place might mean you can’t move in right away, but it will make it easier for you to customize a property to your liking.

Dwellings which require renovation or even a complete overhaul are often significantly cheaper than their more recently-renovated neighbours. Don’t discount this as an option, especially if you are a first home buyer with less upfront capital to spend.

If you are willing to compromise, you’ll find your options dramatically increase, and your property journey will be a breeze. That dream home can be closer than you think.

Article by Jason Boon

In a real estate market that is the focus of Australian, and indeed worldwide attention, Jason Boon's results in the Sydney scene make him a highly significant figure within the industry. A long-term specialist in the Potts Point and inner eastern suburbs area, he is uniquely placed to leverage his skills and local knowledge as the area undergoes significant change and diversification. Jason ha…