Before you begin your search, make a list of features that are important for your new home. Download the U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development’s new home wish list to help you complete this step. (This download requires the Adobe Acrobat Reader. Download Acrobat Reader free from Adobe’s web site.)
Prepare a monthly budget for your household, listing all debts (credit cards, car payments, monthly obligations, etc.). Use this budget to calculate an affordable monthly budget range. (Your house payment should not exceed more than 28 of your gross monthly income.)
Pick a competent real estate agent to assist you in your search. Talk to your home-owning friends and family for their recommendations. Be sure to give the agent your price range and specific wants and needs for your new home. The agent will be more knowledgeable about the buying process and can provide you with a list of homes that meet your requirements.
Check numerous mortgage companies to get the best interest rate and lowest monthly payment possible. (Your agent may have recommendations for you as well.) Remember that your credit rating will determine your loan approval. Try to reduce your debt as much as possible before applying for a home loan.
Take your time to find the right home. Be sure to check the area and home thoroughly. Download the U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development’s home checklist to use as you visit each home. Take a Polaroid or digital camera with you to take pictures of the home. Once you leave, you can refer back to the pictures later to help narrow your purchasing decision.
Submit your offer to your agent, making sure to include a list of items you want repaired or included as part of the offer. Don’t get discouraged if your first offer isn’t accepted. There is always room for negotiating.
When you are ready to move, be sure to change your address with the Post Office.