7 Tips to Help You Find Your Dream Home

If you’re a first-time buyer about to begin the process of becoming a homeowner, you’re probably looking for your dream home. While some people will warn you it’s impossible to buy a dream home your first time around, that’s not necessarily the truth. You just have to know what to do to discover it in your home search. These seven tips will make it easier for you to reach your goal.

1. Get Pre-qualified

You may wonder what getting pre-qualified (or even better, pre-approved) has to do with finding your dream home. It’s important to take this step first before looking at homes, even though many first-time buyers want to skip over it and jump right into touring properties. The reason to focus on financing first is you’ll know what you can afford, rather than wasting your time looking at homes out of your budget.
Once you’re pre-qualified and have a budget in mind, you can look at homes which fit the price range. This ensures you find the dream home that you can afford. If you start out looking at homes around $300,000 and are only approved for $250,000, you’ll discover very few of the homes in your price range measure up to those priced higher, and you’ll feel like you’re not getting a dream home.

2. Make a List and Check It Twice

No, you’re not asking Santa Claus to find you a house, but you are listing everything you would like to have in a home. Now is the time to let your imagination go wild. If you want granite countertops in the kitchen, put it on the list. Think about the ideal number of bedrooms and bathrooms, or how much outdoor space you’d like to have. This step creates a picture of the ideal house in your mind. While you may think this won’t work if you have a limited budget, you’d be surprised at how many items won’t be on your list. When you start looking at houses and find one with a hot tub, don’t get sidetracked if that item didn’t make your list.

3. Prioritize

Now you have your ultimate wish list. It’s time to cut it down to size. Look through that list and put it in order of priorities. This is going to be a big task, because you’re going to think you need to have everything. However, a few tips will help you break down your list and organize it according to what’s most important:

  • What is essential for living? – If you have two kids, a two- or three-bedroom house is a must-have. Four bedrooms are not.
  • What do you already have in your current home that you would miss if your future home didn’t have it? A dishwasher? Master bath? Think about what you really use in your daily routine.
  • What do you currently complain about not having? Tired of going downstairs to do laundry in the basement? Wish you had a dishwasher, or more counter space in the bathroom or kitchen?

Once you have your must-have list complete, anything left over are just bonuses that aren’t essential for a happy life. Don’t toss them out; just realize they aren’t as important as you first thought.

4. Shop Online First

Before you look at the actual houses, go online and see what’s available in your price range. Look through the photos and read the information. Discover how many of your must-have items you can get in your budget and which extras you might also find. Your goal is to find the properties with all of your must-haves and one or two of the bonus features. This is the definition of a dream home for you.

5. Tour Open Houses

Start looking at homes by going to a few open houses. No matter how nice of a job the sellers or their agent did of recreating the home online, it won’t replace the need to see it in person. Take your time going through the house and looking at both the positives and negatives. This will help you learn more about what you really want and need in a house. Once you’ve toured a few of these homes, look at your list again and see if you’re willing to make a few concessions. Maybe a dishwasher isn’t as important as more outdoor space or maybe you could find a work-around for no master bathroom.

6. Find a Real Estate Agent

While this tip is listed as sixth, it is of vital importance. An experienced agent who is knowledgeable of your desired neighborhood can help you immensely in your home search. They can tell you about homes you may not be aware of or even show you properties that might not seem like the right fit at first. They’ll also help you be more realistic in your search, which will enable you to avoid disappointment when your ideal home doesn’t exist.

7. Make Your Home Your Dream Home

When it’s all said and done, the home that meets your needs is your dream home. It may not have everything you ever wanted, but it’s the dream home for you now. Make up your mind to love whatever home you choose and work on ways to turn it into the place you want to live.