Your first step here is to figure out what city (or town) and neighborhood you want to live in. Regardless of whether or not you have school-age children, try to buy in a district with good schools. If you sell the home in the future, a strong school system will be a major advantage in attracting buyers and getting top dollar.

Your real estate agent should be available to give you at least the basic information about schools in the area.

Type of House
Next, try to determine what kind of house will fit your wants and needs. This will help you narrow your search, and it will help your agent pull recent sales information on similar types of homes. At a minimum, ask yourself the following questions:

  • One story or two?
  • How much space do I need now?
  • How much space will I need in a year or two, or three?
  • What features do I want in a home?
  • What architectural styles appeal to me?

Write down as many characteristics as you can think of. Categorize them as either “must have” or “would be nice to have.”

Next, get out there and search! Your agent will help you a lot in this regard, but don’t stop there. Drive through neighborhoods. Read the “Homes” or “Real Estate” section of your newspaper. Your dream home won’t find you … you have to find it.

When you actually start touring homes, take your priority list of size, style, features, etc. Compare each home against the list to see if it offers the things most important to you.

But don’t be too quick to reject a house if it doesn’t at first measure up. You can always build a deck or update a kitchen. If you find a house that excels in all other areas but lacks one of the items on your list, ask yourself: “Is this something I can add on myself?”