Purchasing a home is often one of the largest and most important investment decisions that an individual makes in his or her lifetime. In addition to the financial considerations, this decision often also contains a substantial emotional component. Prior to beginning the house hunting process, one should consider the following:

1) Financial Preparation. Before speaking with mortgage companies and acquiring loan quotes, prepare a budget so that you understand what you can afford to spend on your new home. Consider the estimated cost of a mortgage, utilities and other expenses that may arise as a result of home ownership. Check your credit reports and scores and work to improve your scores if necessary. Make sure that you are putting extra money aside for this transaction. The more that you can save, the better.

2) Research the Real Estate Process. When purchasing real estate, understand the process that you will undergo. Ask about the different types of mortgage loans available to you and the advantages and disadvantages of each. Learn the terminology utilized in the real estate industry. This knowledge will allow you to be in a position to ask the right questions and make informed and intelligent decisions throughout the buying process.

3) The Mortgage Pre-Approval Process. Consider consulting with your potential lender to determine what amount of loan you may be approved for based on your present financial condition. This will greatly assist you in choosing a future home that comfortably fits in your personal budget.

4) Choosing a Real Estate Agent. While nothing requires you to choose a real estate agent to assist you in your search for a new home, it can be helpful especially if you are purchasing your first home or buying in an unfamiliar town. One issue to consider is the agent’s commission. Typically, the seller pays the real estate commission on the sale of a home. As with any legal document, prior to signing with a buyer’s agent, make sure that you know what the document says with regard to commission and your obligation to the agent.

Through proper planning and a little bit of research, potential homebuyers can reduce or eliminate much of the stress and consternation that accompanies this process and make well informed decisions that benefit themselves and their families.