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The pre-approval letter in your hands shows your hard work and dedication to homeownership will be a reality soon. It’s an exciting time when you are ready to start searching for a home. You’ve likely had many ideas throughout your life about what you prefer and what you don’t. There are several things you should consider when starting your search, from finding a real estate agent to defining the must-haves. Let’s take a closer look at six factors in the search for your perfect home.

1 — Find a Realtor
Call a few different real estate agents and visit in-person when possible. You’ll want to find a realtor you can easily talk with and trust. They are your best advocate in locating homes that fit within your budget and needs. A good realtor will be able to assist you in negotiations and finalizing the purchase.

2 — Know the style, size, and major features you’re looking for.
Maybe you like the way Craftsman-style homes are or want something modern. If you must have three-bedrooms minimum, don’t consider a two-bedroom home. The same goes for one-level living, or multi-level living. Pro-tip: make a list of need, must-haves, want, and nice-to haves. It will help when there are two homes you like and you can compare easily with a list. 

3 — Know which neighborhoods you are looking for, especially if you have children in school.
If moving outside the current school boundaries is a no-go, be sure this is understood, but know it will likely take longer to find the right home. If you’re open to any area, do a little research, drive around and check out different areas. Also consider things like your hobbies, food-delivery options, and if the style of home you prefer is in the area. If you can, narrow it down to a handful of favorites to narrow your search. 

4 — Remember that even a perfect house will have some cosmetic problems
Like a pink toilet, bright blue door, unique wallpaper, or an old brick patio. These are worth overlooking and can easily be remedied after you purchase the home. Keep in mind some things can also be used as leverage in the negotiation process. 

5 — Stay within your budgeted pre-approval.
It may be tempting to look at the home just over-budget, but more often than not it will only lead to disappointment and higher expectations of what you can afford. 

6 — When you find a home that is ‘interesting’ take some time to imagine your family members in the home.
Then, go back to the house and really look at the nitty-gritty details. Are there any red flags like water stains under a sink, saggy floor around the bathtub or toilet? Do outlets look good, switches work, windows open? Be sure to also check out the neighborhood at different times of the day and week.