The home-buying process can be one of life's most stressful – yet rewarding – experiences. While there are likely to be plenty of ups and downs along the way, there is nothing comparable to finally owning your own home. But, long before that happens, you'll need to search for homes that best meet your needs.
Know what you want
You can begin the process of finding that perfect new home by figuring out exactly what you want. Make a list of the various features you need and want, keeping in mind the following:
- Number of bedrooms and bathrooms
- Size of each room
- Size of yard
- Level of privacy or space in between neighboring homes
- Amenities like pools or fireplaces
- Storage areas like garages, attics, or basements
- Number of floors
- Style of house (ranch, colonial, etc.)
You should also have a general idea of the age of your ideal home. While older homes might be quaint and have more aesthetic appeal, they may not be in the best condition. At the same time, a newer home is likely to be in good condition, though it might not have the character that an older house would.
TIP: It may be a good idea to see if you can get preapproved for a loan before you start looking at homes. This will help you figure out your ideal price range.
Find a neighborhood
After determining your needs and wants for your future home, you can start looking into individual neighborhoods. While you don't need to know which neighborhood you want to live in, you should have a basic idea of the type of neighborhood you desire (i.e., urban, suburban, or rural). The neighborhood a certain home is in might be more of a deal breaker or maker than the home itself. You may find the perfect home in a bad neighborhood or one that is too far from work. At the same time, you could very well end up deciding on a less-than-ideal home that is in the perfect neighborhood.
There are several ways to find a neighborhood. You could enlist the help of a real estate agent, who will likely be familiar with all of the neighborhoods in your desired location. Of course, he or she can be a wealth of information and do everything possible to help you find the home and neighborhood that best meet your needs. There are also many websites offering information about specific neighborhoods.
TIP: For detailed information about neighborhoods throughout the country, check out the site http://www.neighborhoodscout.com/
Searching for and visiting homes
The next step in your search for a new home should be to search listings for homes for sale in your desired neighborhoods. You can find such ads in various locations, such as:
- Real estate websites
- Classified ads in the newspaper
- Booklets of listings from real estate companies
It is recommended that you plan to visit as many homes as possible. When it comes to selecting your future home, you can never be too picky. You can either inspect these homes on your own or with the help of a real estate agent. Either way, make sure you take detailed notes of each home, keeping track of what you liked and didn't like about each one.
Once you have viewed several homes, narrow down your list to the ones that most closely match your needs. Unless you have a clear favorite in mind, there are a few other things you should take into account:
- Will the home need any repairs before moving in?
- Will the value of the home increase or decrease over time?
- Can you see yourself living there for a while?
After you have thought about the above questions, make your final decision. When you have found your perfect home, you can start the process of bidding on the home, and, hopefully, you'll end up owning it.