A new home is one of the biggest investments you’ll make in your lifetime. Since most families spend nine or more years living in a home, it’s important that you make an informed decision before you buy.

Not sure exactly what to look for? No problem! The following house buying guide will help you cover all your bases and pick the perfect home for your family.

1. Make a List of Your “Must-haves”

Before you start looking at homes, it’s a good idea to make a list of “must-haves.” This is everything you really want in a home. Often, you’ll start with a long list, and find that you need to narrow it down to be more realistic.

Start with your original list, then split it into two lists. One of the things you absolutely must have, and a second list of features that would be nice to have. It’s also a good idea to write down anything that you absolutely don’t want.

Making these lists and sharing them with your real estate agent will help you avoid wasting everybody’s time by looking at homes that simply aren’t right.

That being said, keep an open mind. Sometimes, realtors can find a property that’s perfect for you even though it doesn’t fit your lists.

2. Confirm Your Budget (And Stick to It)

It’s a great idea to speak with a lender right away and get pre-qualified for a loan. This will help you narrow down your budget and let you know how much cash you’ll need to come up with upfront.

Once you’ve decided on a budget, stick to it. It’s easy to let emotions get in the way, and the last thing you want to do is buy a home that you really can’t comfortably afford.

Pre-qualification can also put you at an advantage when it’s time to put in an offer. Often, sellers won’t consider offers from buyers that aren’t pre-qualified. If you wait to see a lender until you’ve found your dream home, you’ll run the risk of losing it.

3. Carefully Consider Location

There are a lot of things you can change about a home. You can always paint it, remodel, or add more rooms. The one thing you can’t do, however, is pick it up and move it to a new neighborhood.

Before you put an offer in on a home, make sure the location is acceptable to everyone in the family. Consider the length of everybody’s commute, the local traffic, and whether it’s conveniently located near shopping, dining, and entertainment options.

4. Check Out the School Districts

Great school districts are extremely important for families with children. Not only do you want your children to get the best possible education but buying a home that’s located near excellent schools will help boost your resale value.

Even if you don’t have children, the school districts make a difference. When it comes time to sell your home, it will impact both the speed at which your home sells and the price you’ll get for it.

5. Leave Yourself Room to Grow

Be careful about choosing a home that has the exact number of bedrooms you need. Today’s families are dynamic, and it’s always possible that you’ll need extra space for an aging parent, returning college student, or an unexpected grandchild.

It’s a great idea to find a home with a bonus room like an office or den that you could turn into an extra bedroom if necessary.

6. Compare Your Options

The internet is a great resource for finding homes for sale. Before you head out on your search, take a look online to see what’s available in your area. Websites like HomesinMeridian.com are a wealth of information.

7. Find a Great Realtor

Although you can find a lot of information about homes online, don’t underestimate how much the skills and knowledge of a good realtor can help with your home search. Your realtor can help you find homes that aren’t even listed yet. Even better, he or she will stay by your side and help you through the negotiation process and anything else that comes up along the way.

8. Check Out Crime Statistics

You’ll definitely want to research the neighborhood you’re considering before you make an offer on a home. Even the most gorgeous house will be a nightmare if it’s in a high-crime area where you and your family don’t feel safe. Sites like Crime Reports or Area Vibes are great resources for learning more about a neighborhood.

9. Look for Amenities and Activities

Is it important for you to live in a home that’s close to parks, community recreation centers, or public swimming pools? Check out all of the local amenities to make sure you’ll have easy access to the resources and activities that your family needs.

10. Be Patient

Finding the perfect home isn’t always easy. Make sure you stay patient and don’t make your decisions based on emotions. If you stick with the advice provided, you’ll eventually find the home that you and your family have been dreaming of.

Most importantly, don’t settle for a home that’s not quite right. It’s better to stay where you are or rent for a while than to make a decision you’ll regret for years.

Beyond the House Buying Guide: Prepare for What Comes Next

Hopefully this handy house buying guide has told you everything you need to know so you can find the perfect home for your family. Once you purchase your home, you’ll need to learn how to decorate it, maintain it, and enjoy every day you spend in it.

Luckily, the In News Weekly website has plenty of tips and tricks to help you do just that. Come back often to check out our blog. You’re sure to find great information that you’ll wish you knew sooner.

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