Finding your dream home can be hell. If you're ready to get out there and start looking, here are three things you should think about before you start searching for home sweet home.*

| how do you know |


At the beginning of the year, my boyfriend (Evan) and I knew it was time to start looking for a house. Renting became too expensive and our space began to feel tight. Though we had a two bedroom apartment, we converted the second bedroom into a home office as we both work from home.

Needless to say, as we spent more time at home we quickly outgrew our place. We also wanted more bang for our buck - more square footage, upgraded interior features and a cheaper monthly payment were our top three reasons to look for a house. If you're in the same boat or facing a similar situation, it may be time to buy.

So, what should you consider before and during your home search?

| one: your |


This may sound basic, but knowing how much you're willing and able to spend on a house is where everything starts. Once you get out there and start looking, you may be tempted to make exceptions for a house you fall in love with. Don't.

Remember: It's really important to know the high and low ends of your budget so you don't get in over your head with a mortgage payment. Knowing the above will also help you determine when a house is worth fighting for and when it's not.

Additionally, avoid looking at houses that are on the higher end of your budget. Looking on the lower end may give you more bargaining power, should you need it.

All in all, have an honest conversation with yourself/your partner about how much you can put toward your down payment and how much you can afford to pay every month.

| two: move-in ready or|


Your budget will also come into play when it comes to deciding whether you want to purchase a house that's move-in ready or a fixer-upper. If you're considering a fixer-upper, ask yourself: Do you have the patience and the means ($) to take one on?

Our answer to this question was a big "no," we wanted something turnkey. Evan and I both work full-time jobs, so sacrificing time and energy to address major home improvement projects wasn't something we were keen on.

| three: don't |


Our first-time home buying experience was certainly interesting, as this year the market reached historic levels of wild. Buying a house is an intimidating process to begin with but the pressure was tenfold since it's a seller's market.

From the start of our home search, we thought long and hard about what we wanted to better understand what we were and weren't willing to do or sacrifice to get a house. We knew we...

  • Didn't want to get into a bidding war

  • Weren't willing to pay above a home's appraisal value

  • Wouldn't settle for a house that didn't have central air or 1.5 bathrooms

Make a list of your must-have's and try your best to honor them! Buying a house is a huge step in your life, so don't feel pressured to settle for anything less than what you want or need, despite grueling market conditions.

Above all else, patience will be the most valuable tool you have throughout the home buying process - along with a trustworthy realtor! For anyone looking to buy or sell in Pa. or Md., I highly recommend the Reineberg, Monti Joines and Donna Troupe Team. We worked with Jodi and had a truly great experience.

| until |


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*Disclaimer: I am not a realtor or home buying professional by any means. These are my personal recommendations for purchasing a home, based off of my first-time home buying experience. I am not responsible for providing professional home buying guidance. Please consult an experienced realty professional for advanced insight.