Hunting for a new home can be exciting, but don't go into your home purchase unprepared: Doing so can be expensive and may lead to unexpected hassles and disappointments.
Are you following your gut or working from a plan? Do you know, specifically, what you're looking to buy? Do you have a real estate agent you trust? Do you know what you're prepared to spend, and how you'd like your mortgage to be structured?
Before you begin your search, spend some time thinking through the bigger issues and gather the tools you'll need to be ready.
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. You can use this calculator to crunch the numbers.
Make a list
Jot down the features you need versus those you want for your family's new home, and do it before you go to see 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.
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 your cool. You may find the house of your dreams on the first day or the 30th. Remember, your goal is to find the right home for your family.