House hunting can be daunting. I mean, this isn’t like shopping for a new pair of jeans daunting; it’s a huge investment and commitment – and the factors and checklist to sift through to lead to just the right home could be life-changing. 

We know this first-hand because we guide overwhelmed house hunters through the process every day – making what could be rigorous more relaxing. That’s why we’ve built a list of tips we’d like to offer you that, in our professional opinion, will help you maneuver through the twists and turns to the right home for you.

Hire a real estate agent whose ethics aren’t based on pressure-buying.Nothing could be more vital than starting this journey alongside the trusted, guiding hand of your real estate agent of choice. It’s so important to work with someone you trust to give you honest advice on a home purchase without his/her eyes solely focused on the commission. The last thing you need is to be pressured into buying a home that will stretch your budget beyond its limit because of bad advice.

Trust your instincts. The second person you need to trust isyourself. More often than not, that gut instinct of yours won’t steer you wrong. And sometimes when you second-guess yourself, you lose seconds, minutes, hours that you may have desperately needed to put in an offer in before another buyer – and you lose out. Not that we advise rushing into things, but when it’s the right house, you just know. Ask yourself these questions: Do you want to go inside the house, i.e., is the curb appeal attractive? Does it feel comfortable and inviting – and, well, like home – when you enter the house? Are you envisioning your furniture layout, what you would change in “your” house and new paint color? Do you want to stop looking at other houses and start bragging about this one to friends and family? A resounding “yes” to these questions-to-self means your instincts are tingling. 

Make a List of Your Must-Haves.Your list of home must-have will most likely match the filters you’ve set on your online home search. And at the top of your list should be: location, location, location. The home location that’s right for you could mean a community with families, singles or seniors. It also depends on what’s a must for you on where you live: high traffic vs. secluded rural, waterfront vs. landlocked, plus the proximity to your work commute and the school district for the kids. Overall, the right location is vital to the growth of your home’s value over time. Other must-haves insidethe home include the number of bedrooms and baths, yard space (fenced-in for toddlers or the dog?), storage space (Garage? Closets?), kitchen and living space, and more.

Decide on older or new construction

Is the right home for you a turnkey new build or one with historic charm? Figure out if you’re willing to pay less and put more into maintenance and renovation into an older home. An advantage, however, is the surroundings of a well-established community. Newer homes, of course, require less work, stress and money upon move-in and for years to come. Plus, they’re equipped with updated technology built into alarm systems and smart thermostats. Only thing is, if you’re hunting a home with a big backyard, new construction is often built on smaller lots. Look at the big picture on what will make you happy, not just the asking price. 

Know Your Budget Before You Start

You need to be realistic and know that your dream home may not necessarily be one you can afford. Home happiness has to lie within your budget – not beyond. What can you pay monthly for your mortgage, as well as for your property taxes, insurance and utility bills? It pays to think of all of this upfront, along with preparing for the possible emergency repair your new home may require, if need be, instead of funneling all of your savings on a down payment. 

Conduct a Thorough Walkthrough of the House & Neighborhood

If this home is one you see yourself in, don’t fall blindly in love with it, put some work into research, like this checklist: Check out the condition of what would be costly in repair (HVAC, roof, windows); look at the plumbing for signs of water damage or leaks (under sinks and behind toilets); flip light switches; flush toilets; turn on the shower and sinks; look into the area’s safety and whether or not it’s prone to flooding; talk to neighbors; and get a copy of the HOA bylaws and restrictions. 

Armed with all of these house hunting tips, you should be able to land the home that’s just right for you. Good luck!