- Set a price range that is within your budget. Make sure you can truly afford it and set this BEFORE YOU START LOOKING AT HOUSES!
- Make a list (I recommend a spreadsheet) of the qualities in the home that you MUST have. Think of your current living situation and start there. For example, if you are currently short a bathroom and have 3 people in the home sharing one bath, that might be a MUST have on your list. If you have problems walking up the stairs, you may want to consider having only a ranch style home.
- Put all of the MUST have items in first. These should be things that are deal breakers. Do not include items that you can live without. Do not include things that you can change later in a home, such as paint color or a type of landscaping. Those are things you can save up for and work on down the road. In one of my client’s homes, for example, it was a MUST have for a ranch home over a basement. No more upstairs bedrooms due to recent knee issues and upcoming surgeries. Although that limited their search considerably, it allowed them to focus only on the homes with that criteria.
- List all of the NICE to have items next. These are important but you can live without them. You may want a kitchen with the sink in the island for example but is it a deal breaker? You may want the laundry room in a certain part of the home. Depending on your needs, that could be a deal breaker or not.
- List the areas of town you are willing to search. If there are specific neighborhoods, list them out as well. Also, if you know there are places you will NOT live, those should be written down.
- After you have listed these items, the real estate agent can set you up with a search tool online where you can look yourself or she can recommend some homes in the area in which you are interested.
By listing these items out, you are focusing on a specific set of goals. This helps keep you on track. By following steps, you will be less likely to enter areas you really are not interested in and look around, get emotionally invested in a home that is either out of your price range or has features that you find appealing but are not on your list.