Searching for and buying a new home can be an extremely overwhelming experience. So we’ve outlined a step-by-step checklist to get you started on your way to finding the perfect home for you.

1. Find an agent you can trust. Your real estate agent is the pro. The agent finds people homes for a living, and has gone through this process many times before. Although you may do your own research, the agent’s job is to know the market, know the process, and know how to find you your best deal. You also should always have the sense that the agent knows what you want. It will save you a lot of stress if you find someone who you trust will take care of you and whose advice you respect.

2. Set a reasonable budget. Taking on a mortgage is a big responsibility. The mortgage

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will likely be one of the biggest monthly checks you write. Outline your monthly expenditures to figure out how much money you have that you can apply to a mortgage. Be sure to consider any association fees, if applicable, taxes, insurance, and if you don’t already own a home, approximate utilities in your area. Then use a mortgage calculator to approximate the monthly cost of a mortgage based on current interest rates.

3. Create a list of must-have features. Once you know about how much you can spend, do a quick online search of homes for sale in your area to see what features are reasonable to include as “must-haves”. You probably have spent some time picturing your ideal home, and you may have a few sticking points that you’re positive you want. Perhaps you love to cook and need a lot of counterspace. Or you have pets, so carpet or flooring that is pet-friendly is a must. Remember to plan 5, 10, and 30 years out if you think you may be in the home that long. You may have not have children now, but perhaps are thinking of starting a family in the future. All of these things are important to consider when doing your search, and very important for you to communicate to your agent in advance to make the search process as simple as possible.

4. Set up a searching timeline that is a month or less. Don’t make the mistake of being too hesitant when searching for a new home. This market has homes at ideal prices, so you really don’t want your search to go on for months and risk missing out on this buyer’s market. And if you’ve done a good job communicating with your agent exactly what you are looking for in a home, you should only be looking at homes that fit your budget and match what you want. Keeping the process as brief as possible will help you to remember the homes you like, what you like about them, and will keep you confident you have made the right decision.

5. Don’t bring too many people along on the search. Ideally you’ll visit the homes with your spouse or anyone purchasing the home with you, and leave others behind, especially on the initial visits. Too many opinions can add chaos to an already overwhelming decision. And other’s opinions don’t matter anyway, as they won’t be living in the home.

6. Take notes and pictures. Especially if you are visiting multiple homes in one day, keep a list of what you liked or didn’t like about each home. Write down the home’s 3 best and worst features, as well as something to remember each home by (for example, 1000 Pleasant Way is the home with the large back deck). This will help you keep track and remember which homes make the final cut. Don’t bother writing likes or dislikes about the homes you are certain are out. Just cross them off the list and move on.

7. Revisit your top two or three. Once you’ve finished your initial visits, give yourself a few days to rest, step back, and not think about what you’ve seen. Then revisit your top 2 or 3 homes before making an offer, seeing the homes with a fresh set of eyes may help you catch things you missed (good or bad) and will give you confidence that you’ve made the right decision when it comes time to make an offer.

Best of luck to you in your new home search! If clubhouse living meets your lifestyle, be sure to check out a Crown home.

Do any experienced homebuyers have other tips to add?