Your first step in the home-buying process is to define the reasons why you want to purchase a new home. To stop paying rent? To start building equity? To have a place of your own? To raise a family? To move up to a bigger house? Determine the style of home you prefer and the area in which you'd like to live. Be specific.
Develop a Needs vs. Wants List. Everyone has a picture of their ideal home. This home would include all the features you not only need, but have long desired. However, when it comes time to buying a home, these desired features constitute additional costs. While it's nice to think about having an artfully landscaped backyard, or built-in appliances, remember these are usually considered luxury items which can add considerably to the price of your property.
Begin the list with items you absolutely need like adequate number of rooms, storage space and amenities. How much space do you really need? Does your situation require a one-level home, or are stairs acceptable? Basic needs should be considered first. After these have been established, you can consider additional features if you can manage these benefits financially. With such a list in your hands, you're less likely to be caught up in the excitement of the pursuit. You'll have a good idea of what you want, the features within your price range, and whether or not you can afford those additional items.
Think of yourself as zeroing in on a target going from the general to the specific. Consider area (downtown Vancouver, Burnaby, Kerrisdale); and neighbourhood (older and settled or brand new). Check out the neighbourhoods you're considering, and ask around. What amenities does the area have to offer? Are there schools, churches, parks, or grocery stores within reach? Consider visiting schools in the area if you have children. How will you be affected by a new commute to work? Are there infrastructure projects in development? All of these factors will influence the way you experience your new home, so ensure you're well-acquainted with the surrounding area before purchasing. To learn more about what to look for in a new neighbourhood, please visit my Special Reports section!