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You Can Buy a House, Step 1 Your Wants and Needs

Off to a Good Start

Are you a good detective? That's what you'll need to be to find and buy a home you love. The home buying process is a journey that requires you to pay attention to small details, ask questions, take notes and stay current with the real estate market in your area.

Determine Your Wants and Needs

Grab a piece of paper and divide it into three columns. If you'll have a co-owner, have that person make a list too, but don't share ideas just yet.

Column 1, List Must-Have Features

  • If the house must be located in a specific neighborhood or school district.
  • If the house must have 3 bedrooms, a 2 car garage, a large kitchen, a view.
  • If there must be no restrictions against a home-based business.
  • If the home must be one level, with few or no steps.
  • List every feature you feel is a must.

Column 2, List Features You Would Like:

  • A basement or a deck.
  • Whirlpool tubs, walk-in closets.
  • A certain type of architecture.
  • Gas heat.
  • Central air conditioning.
  • List all features that are important to you--but that you might be flexible about.

Column 3, List Features You Do NOT Want:

  • A home located next to a highway or in a congested area.
  • Certain types of architecture.
  • Homes that need a great deal of work.
  • List all features you absolutely cannot accept.

Review your list. If your co-owner made a list, compare them to see if your priorities match. If they don't, you'll need to compromise, revising your lists so that both of you are happy.

Making a list is a good exercise because it forces you to think about your wants and needs, but I can almost guarantee you that the list will change and evolve when you actually begin to look at houses. Even home buyers with an unlimited budget rarely find the "perfect" home.

Before You Start Looking

Before you head out to look at properties, get your finances in order. If you haven't reviewed your credit records, do it immediately. It isn't unusual for records to contain errors--and they can't be fixed overnight.

Get as many credit report problems corrected before you talk to a mortgage broker or lender. Here are some tutorials to help you check and correct your credit reports.

How To Check Your Credit Report

How To Clean Up Your Credit Report

Get Pre-Qualified for a loan

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