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Editor’s Note: This was originally published on RISMedia’s blog, Housecall. See what else is cookin’ at blog.rismedia.com:

Finding your dream home can be difficult for many reasons, one of which is that your budget often restricts your choices. Keeping a healthy budget coupled with strategic house-hunting practices can yield the best possible property that not only fits your personal budget, but also meets your lifestyle needs. Here are four things to keep in mind during your search.

Determine Your Budget
You can’t make a budget if you don’t know how much you make and spend every month. Sit down and write the hard numbers. Are you mortgaging a house as a single buyer or as a couple? The implications of each option are noteworthy and can greatly impact your finances in the long run. You’ll want to have a wide positive margin between your income and expenses if you are to pay off your monthly mortgage premiums successfully.

Work with a Real Estate Agent
Working with a real estate agent helps you tailor your choices to a specific set of properties that meet your personal criteria, such as budget, location, number of bedrooms/bathrooms, and other included amenities. A real estate agent has the ability to point out pros and cons of each prospect in an objective manner. Be sure to vet your prospective real estate agent. Professional realty firms can simplify the process of picking and choosing a property.

Move to a Location You Know
It can be a location that you grew up as a child or a place that’s heavily covered by the media for being a real estate hotspot. Move to a location that you know is safe and has access to the public facilities you will need, such as a school system for your children, libraries, hospitals, etc. If you are planning to resell the property in the next decade or so, it also makes sense to pick a location that has potential for growth and demand.

Declutter Your Current Household
Unnecessary possessions result in higher moving expenses and can take up valuable space in your new house or condominium unit. Declutter your current household so that you avoid cost and space consumption. You can resell your unneeded items through a garage sale or a digital marketplace, like eBay.

Finding a home that meets your criteria for price and lifestyle needs can seem daunting thanks to the countless variables at play. Using the four tips above, you can avoid the background noise and focus on the core elements that really matter.

For the latest real estate news and trends, bookmark RISMedia.com.

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