Before you start looking for a home, you need to decide what it is you are looking for. You need to decide what items and features your home must have. You also have to decide which ones would be nice to have but aren't absolutely necessary. Another list that is just as important are those items and features that you don't want—these represent reasons to reject a particular home.
You might start your list by thinking what you liked and disliked about each of the places you have lived to date. Also think about other homes in which you've visited. Think about your current situation too. The Home Needs vs. Wants worksheet will help you get started.
The composition of your household will also make a difference in how you look at your wants and needs. Do you have small children? Teenagers? No children? Plan to have children? Older family member living with you?
If you are buying the home with a spouse or partner, it is very important that each of you make a list and then discuss together your individual "wants" and "don'ts"— particularly the don'ts. Many a home purchase has been derailed by an objection coming out of the blue. Compromise will be a major component of a successful home purchase.
Driving through the area and visiting open houses and model homes can help you narrow your list.
Your needs and wants will also be driven by what you can afford. The next section helps you determine what you can afford to spend on a home.
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