House hunting can be a marvelous experience filled with the smell of cedar magnolia candles, the shine of newly-cleaned floors, and the ogling Bugs Bunny-heart-eyes of prospective buyers. 

But before you go looney for that gorgeous two-story, you first have to tune in to your budget.

For all the best tips, tricks, and strategies to stick with your budget while still finding your dream place, read through this guide. 

Write Down Your Top Priorities

While we would all love to have a house with a jacuzzi, lap pool, and private bowling alley, few people actually have the budget for it (plus, Wii Sports works just fine for all of your at-home bowling needs). Even if you have some wiggle room in your budget, don’t let your childlike spirit takeover when you tour houses. 

Walk in with a pre-written list of must-haves and would-be-nices, and stick with those, no matter how much your heart flutters at the sight of the indoor koi pond. 

To create this list, consider some of these common priorities:

  • Living in a safe neighborhood or in a house with strong security features.
  • A big kitchen to embrace your passion for at-home, five-star cooking.
  • Living near your work or your children’s school.
  • Having a big backyard for the dogs and kids to roam.
  • Updated bathrooms and a spare room for some R&R.  
  • Plenty of storage to keep all your equipment for work.
  • A space fit for your at-home office—you can even customize it using home design software.

While some of these might not be important to you, others may stick out as vital components of your new home. Remember these “must-haves” before sacrificing them for flashier features when touring.

Reduce this list to about five key priorities, and review them with your real estate agent to see if houses like that exist within your budget. Once that’s established, you can now step into the house-hunting game with a clear understanding of which features you won’t budge on—and which ones your budget won’t allow for.

Don’t Forget About the Extra Costs

Buying a home is a long-term financial commitment. While the down payment may seem manageable, the monthly costs that stack up after it might make it downright prohibitive. To avoid falling into a debt hole that you can’t escape, be sure to use a loan repayment calculator to determine exactly what your monthly payment would be to your lender. You should also use this information to rearrange your family budget and save accordingly.

That way, you’ll never be in the dark about the real cost of your cool new pad. 

Don’t Budge on Your Budget

What we often forget when teaching our kids about peer pressure is that it doesn’t really end when you grow up. There’s just another term for it: keeping up with the Joneses. Whether it’s the Joneses, the Johnsons, or the Kardashians, you should never compare yourself to someone else when making such an important purchase.

Not only do material purchases speak very little to your value as a person, but your tastes can differ tremendously from those of your friends and family. That being said, make sure you avoid the following peer-pressure pitfalls while house hunting:

  • Hire a real estate agent with a good reputation for respecting their client’s wishes, and make your wishes crystal clear.
  • Bring a friend or family member to showings. Pick someone who can help you stay objective about your priorities and stay focused on what you truly care about in your new house.
  • Avoid bidding wars that could skyrocket the price of a once-affordable home. As long as your must-haves are realistic, you can always find a better (less pricey) alternative.

As long as you stick to your list of priorities for your property and find a place that falls within your budget, you’ll be more than happy with your new home. 

Make Any Home Sweet

Whether you’re moving in by yourself or welcoming your loved ones into this friendly new abode, remember what’s truly important: how you make your home your own. With a dash of creativity, perhaps a DIY project or two, and some fantastic company, you can make any house—no matter the size, price, or location—a sweet one.

Photo by Tierra Mallorca on Unsplash