With all the choices in today’s market how do you go about finding the right home? It seems the more research you do the more options you discover.

It’s important to visualize your needs and plan ahead. “Know what you want in a home what’s important to you and what you can live without” Julie Antunes Associate Broker with Russ Lyon Sotheby’s International Realty says. “Many of us start out with a champagne taste and a beer budget so it’s important to be realistic “she adds.

Where and what you buy will affect you for as long as you live in the house. “Get your priorities in order before you start looking or even talk to a real estate broker or sales associate” Antunes says.

For first time homebuyers this is a new experience so it’s especially important to do your homework. If you currently own a home you know exactly what’s lacking. You may need another bedroom or bathroom or a good school nearby.

Find the place to call home

First decide where you want to live. A big part of the answer hinges on where and how you earn a living.  When you are relocating to a new area it is important to work with a Relocation Expert who can help understand your specific needs and guide you to recommended areas. Once a few locations are narrowed down you should practice the commute in rush hour before you make a commitment. A seemingly quiet road or highway can transform into gridlock during peak hours” Antunes cautions.

People with children have other major considerations: school and safety. If you plan to send your children to private school you can live where you want assuming you can easily arrange transportation. On the other hand a lavish public school system may indicate high local real estate taxes. That is something to consider as taxes vary greatly by town and city.  Check them out.

Obviously lifestyle is an important consideration. People who frequently dine out go dancing and attend the theater probably belong in the city or a close-in suburb. “In other words make sure you’re in close proximity to the things that matter most” Antunes says.

Condo or Single Family Home

It used to be that homes came in a limited variety but today you have many choices. In addition to the traditional single-family home you can buy a townhouse condominium or apartment condominium or co-op.

In planned unit developments (PUDs) you can find almost any combination. In condos and other such communities make sure the rules and regulations as well as the by-laws match your lifestyle. This type of housing is great for people who want to own their own space without being responsible for mowing the lawn or repairing the roof; a management company handles that.

On the other hand you’ll pay fees for these services. “In addition to checking the documents and financial soundness of the homeowner’s association you must determine if the monthly fees are worth the services and additional amenities such as a swimming pool or exercise room” Antunes explains.

Affordability can be a factor not only in the type of housing but whether it’s new or an existing home. Old houses often have fine woodwork or interesting nooks and crannies not normally found in new homes. They generally sit on landscaped lots with mature trees and grown bushes.

Build a new home

New homes may cost more but you can make many more decisions on amenities colors carpeting and fixtures. “Make sure you’re dealing with a reputable builder and working with a knowledgeable real estate agent can help guide you in the right direction.  Remember the on site agents at new build communities represent the builder and not your interests.  Buyer representation is always recommended when purchasing a property including new construction.

Selecting a real estate professional is an important first step in beginning your search. “Ask for personal recommendations to find an individual who is knowledgeable about the neighborhood and has access to the local Multiple Listing Service” Antunes says. Make sure you feel confident about his or her knowledge and skills and understand the business relationship that you have established between you.

Julie Antunes is a member of the Real Estate Buyer’s Agent Council (REBAC) of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® and has obtained the Accredited Buyer Representative (ABR®) designation. As the world’s largest association of real estate professionals focusing specifically on representing the real estate buyer REBAC is “The Voice for Buyer Representation” with more than 32000 active real estate professional members of the organization throughout the world.