Step 5: Finding the perfect home

Searching for the perfect home can be overwhelming. To avoid wasting time looking at homes that aren’t right for your family, first set aside time to determine what you need in a home. If you and your real estate agent have a clear idea of what you’re looking for, you’ll spend a lot less time visiting houses that don’t appeal to you.

When dealing with real estate, location is almost everything. Along with size, location is one of the biggest determinants of price, so don’t be surprised if your desire for a certain part of town comes at a higher price. Once you know your price range, you should be able to narrow your options down to a few areas. Don’t just consider your commute to work, but also think about schools, proximity to grocery stores, theaters, restaurants and parks. If you find a deal that seems too good to be true, research the property thoroughly to see if the house is in a flood plain, near a sewage plant or has other environmental problems.

Size and features
Do you need more bedrooms? A home office or game room for teenagers? Do you have large dogs that need a large yard? Make a list of everything you want in your new home, from number of bedrooms and bathrooms to details like crown molding and stainless steel appliances. It can help to consider what you don’t like about your current home, condo or apartment. For example, do you enjoy cooking but have little counter work space in your kitchen?

Prioritizing needs and wants
Once your have your list, rank each feature. This will help you determine what you must have in a home, and what would be nice to have. Give this list to your agent, clearly stating what are must-haves and deal breakers, then let your agent find homes that match your criteria. The list will help your agent understand what’s important to you, so they can screen listings for you. And remember that while your list helps you prioritize what’s important, don’t get stuck on features you can change if the rest of the house is perfect. It’s easy to paint cabinets, replace faucets and add a fence to the yard.

As your home search progresses, give your agent feedback on the homes you’re viewing. Make sure he or she understands what each home is missing. And if you find that your needs change, make sure you communicate that to your agent.

Next step: Making an offer to purchase.

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