If you’re getting ready to buy your first home, you are likely fraught with questions and a pressing need to make decisions like where to purchase, how much to pay, and how the mortgage application process works. There are some important elements to keep in mind as you navigate your path to a new home.

With the following insider tips in mind, you’ll be poised to make the right decisions for you and your family to find the perfect

Tip 1: Prepare for the Future

While you might be searching homes for sale that suit your current needs, be sure to think about where you might be in the future—within three to five years. If you’re planning to have children, you’ll want to buy a house that can accommodate your family. An extra room or two will make a world of difference when it comes to a growing household. Be sure to tell your real estate agent about your future plans so they can help you buy a home that suits your immediate and upcoming needs.

Tip 2: Choose Your Neighborhood Carefully

When buying a home, many buyers focus closely on the house without taking the neighborhood or community into serious account. If you have children, it’s important to learn about the quality of the schools. Do you want a home in walking distance from the schools? Is there bus transportation available? Also, find out if the neighborhood is in reasonable distance from medical facilities, shopping centers, and, yes, coffee shops! These amenities will affect day-to-day life for you.

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Tip 3: Meet the Neighbors

According to SpareFoot Moving survey, in the U.S., about “30% of people have moved or considered moving” from their home because of noisy neighbors—that doesn’t even include those who have moved because their neighbors were nosy, unfriendly, or unkempt. When buying a home, you can’t expect the home seller to come clean about the neighbors, but you can still ask. A luke-warm response could be a signal that means more investigation is needed. By introducing yourself to the neighbors and asking a few pointed questions about the neighborhood, you can get a feel about whether or not you want to buy a house next door to them.

Tip 4: Perform a Stakeout

Too often, people buy a home only to discover that they live on a street of endlessly barking dogs. They may discover that their street is too busy to allow for the calm setting they crave. Home shoppers should stakeout an area they’re thinking about buying a home in so they can determine if it’s safe—do cars speed on the street? Are dogs running loose? Are there shady people walking down the roads at night? You might discover that there are some deal breakers that will inspire you to keep on hunting for a better situation.

Tip 5: Save for After Move-In Costs

Many first-time homebuyers make the mistake of saving for their down payment without considering the expense of after move-in costs. After moving in, homeowners will face fees for hooking up things like cable and internet. The bedroom set may not fit well. You may want to replace all the toilets seats and locks. You’ll want to purchase cleaning supplies—maybe even new paint. All of these costs add up, so be sure you have a cushion to pay for them.

Keep these insider tips in mind as you search for your first home. By taking your time, you can make smarter decisions that will enhance your future life. Ignoring any one of these tips can have a negative impact on this important first home purchase.

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