House hunting is an exciting process, especially when it’s your first home. While it may feel stressful and overwhelming at times, there are ways to make the search easier.
Here are five steps to take before looking for your dream home:
1. Set Your Budget First
The first thing you need to do before looking at any homes is set your budget. It’s a waste of time to look at homes that are out of your price range. If you aren’t sure what your budget should be, try an online calculator that tells you how much home you can afford. Knowing how much you can spend allows you to filter home options by price. The best way to find out how much you can afford is by getting pre-approved.
2. Get Pre-Approved for a Mortgage
When you’re serious about buying a home, you should go through the pre-approval process with a mortgage lender. This way, you can show a seller your pre-approval letter if you decide to make an offer. In most cases, sellers will not even consider an offer on their home unless the buyer is pre-approved.
3. Figure Out Your Wants and Needs
Like your budget, your wants and needs in a home will help you narrow down your options and decide more quickly if a home is or isn’t right for you. List your needs first. These are your non-negotiable items. For example, if you and your spouse have two children, you may decide that you need a home with at least three bedrooms. Your wants are the things that would be nice to have, but you could do without.
4. Hire a Real Estate Agent
It’s tough to shop for a home, and there is quite a bit of pressure when you’re doing it on your own. Hiring a real estate agent can make a world of difference. Meet with at least a couple of agents and see who you click with the most. Agents will have contacts with builders and developers, and can help you find a home quickly.
5. Consider the Neighborhood
The home itself may be what’s most important, but it’s also important to consider the home's neighborhood to ensure that it’s right for your family. If you have kids or plan to, you’ll obviously want a neighborhood near good schools. Every homebuyer wants to get a place where they’ll be safe from crime. And the neighborhood could also affect the value of your home when you go to sell later on.
Your home will likely be one of the biggest purchases you ever make. Be patient so that you can find the one that’s right for you.