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It’s not always possible to check off every box on your dream home wish list, especially as a first-time buyer in an expensive market. Unless your budget is unlimited, you’ll need to be flexible and let go of some items you were hoping for if you’re really interested in buying. But with that in mind, there are a few key things you should never compromise on when it comes time to buy your first home.

This is a big one, as you probably chose your ideal location for a reason. No matter how beautiful your new home is, if it’s not in the area you wanted, you’ll end up regretting it. While you might find a better deal in a suburb than in a city, the drastic change of lifestyle and commute will become something you resent. You also probably chose that neighbourhood for its schools, community spirit and amenities, and that’s not something you’ll be happy giving up on in the long run.

Obviously, you’ve been quoted a certain amount for your mortgage, and you can’t afford to go over that. But you probably don’t want to purchase at the top of the budget as there are always extra hidden costs to owning a home, and there’s nothing worse than being house poor. It’s easy to feel pressured into buying a home that stretches your budget to the max, but being able to make your mortgage payment every month without taking out another loan is what’s most important to your financial security.

While some might be up for the challenge of a fixer upper they can flip, most buyers are looking for a turnkey option they can move into without having to worry about any renovations. While your budget might not allow for a new or recently renovated home, be sure the structural integrity is solid and you love the layout so you can avoid the time and money required to tear down walls.

Going into the home-buying process, you’ll already know how big you need your home to be to fit your family. If you’re looking for a three-bedroom but find everything you want in a two-bedroom, it might seem like a sacrifice worth making, but in the long run it will cause more hassle than it’s worth. You don’t want to move into a home you know you will outgrow too soon.