Finding a property that takes into account your lifestyle, location preferences and budget can be no small undertaking. Buyers must know what to prioritize, what to budget for and what to compromise on when it comes to finding the right home. Here are some tips to help you find the best one for you:

Attend Open Houses
The key to finding out what best fits your lifestyle is seeing as much inventory as possible. The advantage of working with a real estate agent is that they will show you different properties and neighborhoods you might not have considered. That’s where open houses offer a lot of value. Typically, every weekend there are dozens of open houses. The only thing you have to lose is time. The more you see, the more you realize what you do or don’t like, and it might open up some other avenues that you might not have thought of.

Location Matters – A Lot
What are you willing to tolerate when it comes to commute to work, shopping or entertainment? If you’re living in an area where the walk score is high, you’re going to spend less time in a car. Having to get in your car for a long period of time twice a day is an added stress some would prefer to do without. Some aspire to live close to their workplace, while for others, it’s less of a priority. What’s more, some younger buyers without kids really get into the vibe that comes from downtown living, while others aspire to a quieter existence in the suburbs or exurbs. Regardless of personal preference, it’s a good idea to test out the commute before making an offer. What’s traffic like at rush hour? You really have to go through that experience firsthand to see what it’s going to be like and make an informed decision.

Think Beyond Square Footage
The size of the house is one variable, while the size of the lot is another. Do you want a property with acres of land ideal for gardening, kids and pets? Or do you prefer a smaller lot and less maintenance? Remember, that larger lots come with more responsibility in terms of upkeep. However, a modest backyard might not be ideal for cultivating a garden and having backyard gatherings.

Find Your Aesthetic
Older homes have different features and benefits than more modern ones. The age of the homes can vary by neighborhood. So, if you are looking for a 100-year old craftsman, the suburbs might not be the right place for you. If you pine for a spacious home with shiny new appliances and a huge backyard, the urban core might not deliver. Keep in mind that older homes tend to come with more expenses in terms of remodeling and/or maintenance. The barrier to entry can be less if you are handy or have friends and family willing to help. Some buyers prefer to move into a move-in ready home and are willing to pay up. Be realistic about your limitations, in terms of finances and abilities.

Is It Move-In Ready?
This term doesn’t just apply to historic or rehabbed homes. Sometimes even newer homes need some work in the form of freshened up paint colors or stripping of old wallpaper. Be sure to look at the features behind the walls, too. Upgrades to plumbing, HVAC, roofing, and other infrastructure projects can be costly investments. It is also very important to get an inspection before you buy!

Consider All of the Expenses
Look beyond the face value of the purchase price and take into account property taxes, insurance and home owner’s association (HOA) fees, principal interest, utilities, commuting, maintenance and upgrades.

You aren’t alone in sorting through the clutter of the home-buying process. Working together with a mortgage company and real estate agent is a recipe for success.

Information Courtesy of Ruoff Home Mortgage