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    Having a detailed checklist is critical when you’re a home buyer. Not only can it ensure you snag your dream home, but it can also speed up the overall process, making your home search easier, more efficient, and more effective on the whole.

    Are you considering buying a house in the near-term? Here’s how to create the checklist you need to realize your home buying opportunities.

    7 tips for making your dream home checklist

    1. Have a good handle on your finances.

    The first step is to take a hard look at your financial situation. You need to have a good handle on what you’re bringing in each month, what existing debts you already have, and how much cash you have free to afford a mortgage payment, as well as all the other regular costs that come with owning a home.

    Your best bet is to start with a mortgage affordability calculator. This will help you calculate a rough price point you should be shopping around. If you’re looking for more help, reach out to a loan officer for assistance.

    Once you know how much you can afford, you can start homing in on the types of properties you should be searching for — as well as what locations you should focus your search on. 

    2. Start with your current home.

    Take some time to assess your current residence. What do you like about it? What would you change? What more do you need in a dream home to serve your hobbies, lifestyle, and other needs? 

    Some things to think about when assessing your current home include:

    • Space/size
    • Floor plan
    • Number of bedrooms
    • Flex spaces
    • Kitchen features
    • General amenities
    • Exterior/yard

    Don’t be afraid to be too nit-picky. You’ll narrow down your list of search criteria later on. Think about what you want the living room, home office, and other areas of your new home to look like.

    3. Get everyone involved.

    If you have a partner or family that will be moving into the new home with you, it’s integral you get their feedback as well. What are their preferences for the new home? What are their dealbreakers? Sit down and find out what each household member needs in their dream home — both now and for their future goals. 

    You might want to address:

    • Commute times to work
    • Distance from friends or family members/in-laws
    • Work- and school-related needs (Is a study or office important?)
    • General interest (do you need an area for working out or practicing dance or another sport?)

    Be thorough and make sure everyone gets a say.

    4. Separate your must-haves from your nice-to-haves.

    Once you have a good list of what your household desires in a new place, start whittling that list down. Divide it into two sections: needs and wants. What are the must-haves for the property? A certain number of bedrooms, a large backyard, a two-car garage? These are all common must-haves.

    Nice-to-haves might be things like an extra-large pantry, wood floors, a fireplace, etc. These are generally features you’d be super happy to have in the home, but they’re not dealbreakers by any means.

    5. Think beyond dream home features.

    Knowing what your home should look like and what amenities it should come with is important, but you also need to think about the outside factors surrounding the property, too — things like property taxes, school districts, the access it offers to highways and businesses you frequent, and HOA dues and rules. 

    Make sure these factor into your conversations, too — especially the ones that impact your budget. How much can you afford annually in property taxes? Would a monthly HOA fee be doable? If not, you might need to add “no HOA” to that must-haves list as well.

    6. Do some preliminary research.

    When you have a must-haves list narrowed down, get online and start doing some preliminary research. What’s out there with your desired features? Are those homes in your price range? Your desired location? If there’s a mismatch, you might need to make some edits and try again. 

    If you find there are plenty of properties in your price range with those desired features or, better yet, they’re all well below your price range, you may be able to start working some of those nice-to-haves into your search as well.

    7. Know what matters. 

    Finally, know why you’re moving in the first place. Is the goal to add more space? Make room for a new baby or your aging parents? Move to a better home location or school district? Ultimately, this should guide everything about your home search — at least if you plan to be in the house for the long haul. Once you have that figured out, you should be ready to call a real estate agent and begin house hunting.

    The bottom line about finding your dream home

    Don’t start your dream home search without a detailed checklist in hand. Need more advice or want help determining what price range you should be looking in based on your budget? Reach out to an Embrace Home Loans team member today.

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