If you’re at that place in life when you’re considering buying a home, then congratulations! You’ve got a few hurdles to jump over, but they aren’t insurmountable. You can make your dream home a reality by following these helpful how-to tips.

Plan For The Home You Need Later

As you start looking for your dream home, you need to consider the home you’re going to need later on in life. Planning to start a family? Watch how fast you’d outgrow that cozy cottage for two. It might seem like a stretch to look for a house that will have empty rooms, but those rooms can fill up fast. Plus, if you haven’t discovered already, the key to a successful marriage is separate bathrooms. Make sure your dream home has plenty.

Get Pre-Approved

One of the reasons that many people decide to search for a home is that what they are paying in rent equals what they would pay a mortgage. When you hit that milestone, it makes sense to want to own a home. Before you dive into the market, you need to be realistic about what you can afford. There will be additional property taxes, filing fees, deposits and other costs associated with the purchase. That’s a big chunk of change right there. Beyond having those funds at the ready, you would put yourself in a strong bargaining position if you got pre-approved for a loan. This means shopping around for a lending institution, filling out forms and see who can give you the best deal. Remember, just because you’re pre-approved for a loan doesn’t mean you’re taking out that loan. A seller likes someone who is pre-approved.

Start In Your Favorite Neighborhoods

You’ve got a favorite neighborhood. It’s a place that is chock full of charm, churches, schools, restaurants, and shopping. It’s also close to work, right? It might be where you’re living right now. That’s where you should begin your search. However, don’t discount the extended search option. Go out of your immediate comfort zone to see what’s out there. All those amenities will be available in several neighborhoods.  If you happen to stumble upon one of those “up and coming” zones, then you could get in on a sweet deal and then watch that community flourish around you. For that, you’ll need a good real estate agent.

Find A Good Real Estate Agent

As mentioned above, you’ll want a good agent on your side. Ask around to friends who have recently purchased a home to see who they used. This agent is going to be your advocate and should deal you the straight truth.

Take Your Time

You know how you’re not supposed to go grocery shopping on an empty stomach? The Same rule applies to dream home hunting. Don’t go looking when you need to find a place to live in 30 days. Instead, take your time. Explore. Check out foreclosures. Just like buying a car, you’ll be in the strongest position when you can walk away from a deal that isn’t right. What is your idea of a dream home?