Are you a good detective? That's what you'll need to be to find and buy a home you love. The home buying process is a journey that requires you to pay attention to small details, ask questions, take notes and stay current with the real estate market in your area.
Determine Your Wants and Needs
Grab a piece of paper and divide it into three columns. If you'll have a co-owner, have that person make a list too, but don't share ideas just yet.
Column 1, List Must-Have Features
If it must be located in a specific neighborhood or school district.
If it must have 3 bedrooms or a 2 car garage.
If there must be no restrictions against a home-based business.
If the home must be one level, with few or no steps.
Anything you know you absolutely must have
Column 2, List Features You Would Like:
A basement or a deck.
Whirlpool tubs, walk-in closets.
A certain type of architecture.
Gas heat. Central air conditioning.
Any feature you are flexible about.
Column 3, List Features You Do Not Want:
A home located next to a highway or in a congested area.
Certain types of architecture.
Homes that need a great deal of work.
Any feature you absolutely cannot accept.
Review your list. If your co-owner made a list, compare them to see if your priorities match. If they don't, you'll need to compromise, revising your lists so that both of you are happy.
Making a list is a good exercise because it forces you to think about your wants and needs, but I can almost guarantee the list will change and evolve when you actually begin to look at houses. Even home buyers with an unlimited budget rarely find the "perfect" home.