If you’re one of those people who enjoy shopping then there are few things more exciting than shopping for your new home. For first time buyers the rush is even greater as there is so much to see, understand and take in. But before you head out to find your dream home there are a few things you should do to avoid disappointment.

Check Your Credit: If the vision of your next home has a passing resemblance to Wayne Manor, and you only have a townhouse budget, you might have to lower your expectations a bit. There’s no point in house hunting if you can’t get financing. Always remember to shop within your budget. First step is to actually go ahead and create a budget. This isn’t the job of the bank or other financial institution, it’s yours. Look realistically at your income (after taxes) and then compare this to the amount you spend on your monthly debts and expense. Your housing budget lies within the difference between these numbers.

Establish A Maximum: Once you’ve determined the maximum amount you can afford for a monthly mortgage payment you’ll have a much easier time with your house hunting. The next step is to get pre-approved by a mortgage lender to establish your second spending limit. The first spending limit is your own budget. You should use the lower number as your maximum spending limit. During pre-approval, the lender will examine your credit situation, your income, your debt situation and more. Then they’ll tell you how much they are willing to lend you.

School Taxes: Schools affect property values. Homes that are located within desirable school districts generally appreciate faster than comparable homes outside of those districts. The same goes for the desirability of neighborhoods. So start researching schools and neighborhoods in the area where you want to buy. Find out which ones are the most sought after.

What You Need – Not Want: The harsh reality is that in all likelihood you will never find a house that has every single thing you want. But you will find a place that has most of the things you want, and possibly all of the things you need. So prepare to be flexible and realistic in your expectations. After all there’s a big difference between needs and wants. One is a deal breaker, the other is not. If you find a house that meets all of your needs and some of your wants, you’ve probably found your new home.

Realistic Pricing: Remember your budget will limit the features you can afford when buying a home. If you want a three-bedroom home with at least 2,500 square feet, but your budget is more in line with a two-bedroom home of 2,000 square feet, you’ll have to make some compromises. There will always be compromises when buying a house.

Fantasy Vision: Avoid painting a picture in your head of the home you want. The homes within your budget will probably never live up to it. If there’s a big discrepancy between (A) what you can afford and (B) what you see in your head, you’re going to have a long and frustrating home search, and who needs that kind of stress.

There are many other things you’re going to need to do before finding the right home for you and one of them is contacting a REALTOR®. They have the experience, the patience and the local knowledge that you’re going to need to find just the right property to match your needs and budget. Why not give your favorite a call to begin the process today?