When shopping for potentially the biggest purchase of your life, you’re going to want to do it with no regrets. By completing your house hunting process correctly, you’ll ensure you’re making the right decision to enjoy your forever home for exactly that.

Perhaps you’ve seen HGTV’s House Hunters or something of the like and assume the quest for a dream home is as simple as three steps. If so, you’re in for a rude awakening. It should be a much more complex and long-winded process than that…and if in your case it’s not, then hate to break it to you but you’re doing it wrong. 

The house hunting process can be fun and effective when you’re equipped with the right tools before diving in. Keep the following tips in mind to make a sound decision.

1.Know Your Budget

I cannot stress enough how important it is to live within your means. It may be so tempting to stretch your dollars just a little further so you can get that backyard pool or extra bathroom, but in the long run it won’t be worth the detrimental stress of struggling to keep up with payments. 

Yes, your house is probably going to be your biggest investment, but don’t forget you’ll still need savings for furniture, upkeep, taxes, shopping, vacations, and all the other things that make up home maintenance and life. 

As the saying goes, “go hard or go home”. But if you go so hard you end up foreclosing your home, then what?

2.Pre-Approve Your Mortgage

In today’s competitive housing market you’re going to want to be taken seriously. Pre-approve your mortgage and you’ll show sellers you’re professional and determined to obtain the property. 

Another positive to this is that you’ll find out for yourself if the mortgage is something feasible for your long-term financial plan. Like I mentioned in the previous point, your budget will determine your quality of life. So get all your financial ducks in a row before making the big commitment.

3.Keep an Open Mind

When you’re buying a forever home you’re going to want it to be perfect. Unfortunately, the truth is it’s rare to find all your needs in the style of home you love in the right neighborhood in your budget. Somewhere along the line, something is going to need to be sacrificed.

That doesn’t mean you have to settle for less. There are so many unique homes out there waiting to be found if you tweak your expectations even just a little. 

4.Eye on the Details

House hunting is fun, but don’t get so wrapped up in the aesthetics that you forget the basics. Sure, houses should be pretty, but more importantly they need to be functional. You’re going to be living in it after all, so don’t skim over the boring details like plumbing and ventilation. They may not be the first things on your mind today, but if something goes faulty down the line it will be hard to notice anything but.

This can be especially dangerous when it comes to a flipped home that appears shiny and new at first glance. It’s not uncommon to hide nasty features under a dazzling and modern exterior, and in time you will come to realize the ugly truth behind the new tiles. 

5.Check Out the Neighborhood

Don’t get so wrapped up in the house hunting process that you forget you are also moving to a whole new neighborhood! In addition to neighborhood crime statistics, look around for access to freeways, education systems, and the overall sense of community. 

6.Hire an Agent

The house hunting process is something you don’t have to navigate alone. In today’s world of the internet you may think you can handle it without the help of an expert by searching listings online. 

But did you know that an agent is actually free for you? They’re paid commission by the seller once the sale is closed.

Realtors will be able to guide you through an open house by asking questions you may have never thought about. Even better yet, they have insider access to listings that haven’t been posted yet, so you can get a headstart above everyone else when you do find that perfect place. 

That being said, do some research to find the perfect real estate agent who understands your needs as well as the area in which you are looking to buy.