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Choosing a home can be stressful. It’s a big decision that shouldn’t be entered into lightly. Where you live matters. You want to be comfortable in your neighborhood and in your dwelling. It’s important to take the time to plan now so that you can find a place that suits your priorities. When it comes to how to find the perfect home for your family, follow these steps.

Make a List

When considering your perfect home, it’s wise to start with a list of priorities or must-haves. It’s not likely you’ll get everything on your wish list, but at least you’ll have a place to start. Knowing what you want and what you don’t will save you a lot of time and aggravation as you go through your search.

When looking at listings or consulting with a real estate agent, you can easily omit properties that don’t offer your must-haves or ones that contain your deal breakers. This step alone will save you valuable time. Then, you can move on to creating a game plan for viewing the most promising leads first. This organized approach will make the entire process much smoother.

Location Matters

Location may top your list of priorities. If it doesn’t, you may want to give where you choose to live a bit more thought. You may find yourself disappointed to discover your work commute is longer or more difficult than you anticipated. It’s also possible to discover there are some neighborhood amenities you regret not considering.

It’s a wise idea to create another list detailing your perfect neighborhood and commute. Do you want to be able to walk to shopping or dining? What about recreation space? Maybe living near public transportation is important to you. Make note of your must-haves. Be sure to include things you don’t want as well. All of these factors should play into your home choice.

Stick to a Budget

Searching for affordable apartments in Seattle or at real estate listings within your budget is paramount to obtaining your perfect home. Whether you’re renting or buying, it’s important to know what you can afford. You don’t want to get your heart set on a property only to find out you can’t get approved for the mortgage. It’s equally frustrating to opt for an expensive rental that doesn’t allow for much wiggle room in your monthly budget.

Take care at the beginning of your search to sort out the financial details. This may involve sitting down with your bank or with a mortgage professional to see how much you qualify for. It could be having a frank and honest conversation with your partner to determine what type of budget you both feel comfortable with. Getting everything in order now will make the viewing process much more enjoyable.

Think About Layout

Consider your family’s lifestyle in order to get a good picture of the type of home layout that would work best for you. Do you like the idea of a multi-story home so that everyone can spread out or would it be more convenient to live on one level? Is an open floor plan something you need so that you can easily watch little ones while cooking in the kitchen or to better accommodate entertaining? How many bedrooms do you need, and is placement important? Add these things to your wish list and keep them in mind as you search for your perfect place.

It might also be beneficial to consider the feel of each home as you walk through. Does it feel comfortable or is it a bit too cramped? Is there enough natural light for your tastes? Take time to picture your daily life in each particular home. Can you see yourself and your family living there? Your instincts can help you discover the best home for you.

All of these factors are worth considering when home shopping. Knowing what’s involved in finding the perfect home for your family will allow you to plan, research and prepare so that you save yourself and your housing professionals valuable time. Your lists will provide you with a framework and will ensure everyone is on the same page throughout your search. Plus, it’ll just be more fun when you know what you’re looking for and understand your limits.