buy a house Home ownership is something many dream about. It is the American dream. Understanding the process and how it works gives you greater advantage and less stress during the process. Outside of getting married and having children, purchasing a home can be one of the most challenging. There are so many things to look for when you are buying a home. You must be prepared for all things because anything can happen. Don't be afraid to ask plenty of questions, choose the right team, read all the small print and be aware of your options. Getting a snapshot of the broader picture can make becoming a homeowner a pleasurable experience. The last thing you want to have is a surprise later on.

"It's easy to underestimate the real cost of home ownership." Suze Orman

1. Get pre-approved for a home loan! Do this FIRST!! This is essential, especially if you are not paying with cash. This will take the guess work out of your search. Most often people do this after they find a home and end up wasting their time. This one aspect will position you for success. You will know how much you can afford and what neighborhoods are available in your price range. The mortgage laws have changed and the criteria is much more structured. Being aware of the interest rate and the true value of what you can afford will help save you from financial hardship and distress over time.

2. Always buy less than you can afford! This is what caused the mortgage melt down from 2006 - 2008. People where being approved for homes that were way over their true budget. If you buy what you can afford, it leaves room to live, do home improvements and take care of everything else that can go wrong with a house.  Things happen and you must be prepared to act and take care of it right then and there. Otherwise it can be even more costly in the end. Also, be aware of what the utilities run on a monthly basis. You can find this out by simply picking up the phone and personally calling the utility company. In most instances, the customer service agent would be more than happy to give you an average of the cost over a twelve month period.

"Real estate is the key cost of physical retailers. That's why there's the old saw: location, location, location." Jeff Bezos

3. Location, Location, Location… The first thing you need to do when you are looking for a home is to pay close attention to the location. This big decision can affect your appraised value as well as resell in the future. Make certain you are aware of what is planned for the area. Is there any new construction? Any new shopping centers opening? Are they planning any new zoning with highways and businesses? You also want to be in an area that you feel most comfortable. Make certain that you are buying in an area that will produce great value and/or stability over the long run. The best advantage about real estate is that it is supposed to appreciate in value. After the location part, you will want to make sure that you have the right number of bedrooms and bathrooms in the home that you purchase. Many people want to have enough space for their family to live in now and grow in for later. Especially if you plan to be there longer than 5 years.

"Commercial real estate always trails residential, and as residential growth flourishes, shopping centers flourish and service the communities, and jobs come out." Johnny Isakson

4. Getting the home that you want the most is going to take some work. Keep in mind, no home is perfect but there is one that is perfect for you. It has to fit your lifestyle. You have to make sure that you are able to get the home of your dreams or at least close to it. Looking is the fun part about buying a home. You get to check out a lot of homes and with each one you will see something different that you really want in your next home. You can use all of the homes that you have looked at as a reference point and make your choice from everything they have combined. I advise my clients to choose the things they can live with and without. Then base those accommodations on a scale of 1-10. Of course 10 being the highest.

"Home ownership is the cornerstone of a strong community." Rick Renzi

5. Test the waters and start driving around neighborhoods that you are interested in.  Some neighborhoods look different during the day than they do at night. You may find activity that may not be a good fit with your family lifestyle. This will give you a greater perspective of what's going on and if it's something you are willing to live with. It's easier and less stressful to find the home of your dreams if you know what you are looking for in advance. There are many great homes that are advertised all the time and you can get a great range of homes by being proactive in your search.

6. Hire a Realtor! This should be second after obtaining a mortgage pre-approval. A Realtor is your greatest asset in the home buying process outside of the mortgage broker. They can keep you abreast of what’s new on the market, deals that haven't hit the market yet and all the ethical issues that are associated with purchasing real estate. Since they must maintain a fiduciary responsibility to their clients, the Realtor should be working on your behalf. Make certain you are clear of your expectations and what the Realtor can offer you as a partner in the process.

7. You should also make sure that you are inspecting any home that you are planning to buy. This can save you money, BIG TIME!! You need to make sure that the home you are thinking about purchasing does not have anything too major wrong with it. Home ownership is great, but it’s also expensive. If you don’t have the finances socked away for the unexpected, it may not be a great time to purchase. You need to have an inspector or someone that you trust to check all the plumbing and electricity of the home. These are two very important aspects of a home and it could be costly to repair. You have to be sure that you will not find a problem later on down the road with the home. You also should make sure that you pay attention to the roof and basement. If you do find a problem with a home that you are thinking about purchasing, see if the present owner will fix it. This request can be a part of the contract. This is where a Realtor will be handy in assisting you in negotiating the specifics. Even the cost of the inspection can be negotiated between the buyer and the seller. Sometimes you can make a deal with the present owner to have the problems fixed before you decide to buy. Unless it is being sold as is, some sellers may be flexible and willing to close the deal. This will help you out in the end and you may not have to give up on the home of your dreams.

8. Buy low... Nationwide the market is rebounding. However, there are plenty of great deals that are up for grabs. Tons of foreclosures and bank owned properties still dominate the market. This may be the perfect time to stop renting and start owning. Not to mention, owning real estate is a tax deduction and a worthy investment.

Overall, home ownership has been quoted as the American dream. Owning the title to a piece of real estate can be the beginning of your investment of wealth. Buying low and selling high is a strategic purpose of how most people begin. Finding a home that suits your family, your expectation and your desires creates years of happiness and plenty of joy.

I am Nichelle Womack! As a people building, life transition strategist, I specialize in helping you reach your greatest potential through self-reliance and internal motivation. I provide inspiration through community speaking engagements, one on one consultation and group/team training. Positive thoughts and language are my fuel for energy and my desire to help you find yours. If you are interested in a free 15 minute session of coaching, contact me @ diversecc@gmail.com. Looking for more great life tips, check out “The Master Tip Manual for Personal Success” @http://amzn.to/1bWA7Vw . Many blessings and much success to you!! Check out my websites @ www.2ExcelWithNichelle.com and www.diversecc.com. Connect with me on Twitter and Periscope @NichelleWomack.