There are many things to consider and having a clear picture of exactly what you're looking to buy is important. Deciding if you need a real estate agent and how much you can spend and how your mortgage will be structured are also part of the planning. There are several tools available and here are a few ideas of things you will want to do before house hunting.
Do your homework
Gather information about neighborhoods, school districts, crime statistics and local communities. Much of this is available on the internet. Also spend time thinking about how much you can afford to pay, and what kind of home might be right for you, given your household income. Using a home-buying checklist helps as well.
Make a list
Jot down the features you need versus those you want for your family's new home, and do it before you visit any homes. That way, you'll have a clear idea of what you're looking for without being swayed.
Evaluate a real estate agent
You can search for a house on your own, but there are many advantages to using a real estate agent. Find one that will work with you to find that perfect house. Real estate agents are usually compensated on either a flat fee or percentage of the final sales price of the property.
Get prequalified for a mortgage
Rather than guessing or estimating how much you can afford to spend, ask for an assessment and a letter stating how much you're qualified to borrow. By getting your financial life in order, you will help save time, aggravation and heartache when purchasing your home.
A scorecard to compare homes is a great tool to use after you have looked at several houses. Use a home comparison chart to eliminate the frustration of forgetting why you liked or disliked a home.
Maintain your perspective and be patient. You may find the house of your dreams on the first day or it may take a while. Always remember that your goal is to find the right home for you.