Shopping for your home can be one of the most exciting aspects of becoming a homeowner. However, there are many factors to consider before seriously committing to “the one.”

While there’s a lot of good (and bad) advice out there, it’s important to start with the basics when kicking off your home search. Here are four things to keep in mind while you’re house hunting. 

Location, Location, Location.

The first rule in buying a home is picking the right location. Taking on a mortgage on a home that’s too far from your favorite activities can be a downer. But location isn’t just proximity to your job or family members. Selecting a neighborhood that you love and can see yourself becoming a part of is crucial.

When you’re a homeowner, you’re not just buying a house, you’re choosing to be part of a neighborhood. Take some time to set your priorities and find out what’s important to you. Is having space more important than being close to hip restaurants and nightlife?  Are you looking for something bike friendly, or are you ok with driving? The little things that bring you the most joy can really be supported or diminished by the location you choose to live. Pick wisely, and you’ll end up avoiding a bad case of buyer’s remorse.

Related: The different scenarios for when you need a mortgage broker

Know What You Can Afford

 Being your own financial expert is a crucial component to preparing for your home search. Getting pre-approved early on in the process will allow you to know exactly what you can afford so that you can avoid looking at homes out of your price range. It will also show a seller that you can really secure financing, giving you an edge in the home-buying competition.

Having a substantial down payment ready can also be the difference between landing your dream house and going back to the drawing board. And while you’re saving for your big purchase, keep in mind that there’s more than one way to save money on a mortgage, and the biggest one is your creditworthiness. The higher your credit, the less in interest you’re likely to pay, saving you lots of money in the long run.

Budget For Everything

With great power comes great responsibility, as Spiderman’s uncle would say. Keep that in mind when getting ready to become a homeowner. As opposed to renting where you have one or maybe two bills each month (rent and utilities), owning requires you to stay on track with several other expenses.

When purchasing, account for closing costs, property taxes, homeowners insurance, HOA, utilities, and of course, emergencies. Thankfully, keeping track of your budget is easier, thanks to an abundance of platforms that can help you. You can also get a jump start by getting a feel for the upcoming costs. Calling the utility company in the area to see the average prices, or checking your city’s online database to find out the average property taxes are a good way to start.

Looking Ahead

It can be hard to think about the future when you’re overwhelmed with the excitement of getting into homeownership. It’s totally understandable. Buying a new house is an exciting time. But when looking at potential homes, take some time to think about future prospects. Is there a possibility of you moving? If so, consider the possibility of renting out space in the future. Buying a house that’s connected to an HOA? Read the contract before purchasing, so you know how future renovation plans will be affected. Planning on starting a family? Checking out the school district is probably a good idea. Even if you don’t plan on kids, areas with great school systems tend to raise your property values, and who doesn’t want that?

Getting ready to buy a home doesn’t have to feel like navigating a minefield. Let Morty take some of the stress off—understand what you can afford upfront. From there, you’ll determine just how easy it is to take those first steps toward becoming a homeowner.