Picking out a home is kind of like raising kids. Everyone's got their own ideas of the best way to go about it, and few people have compunctions about sharing them with you. But for what it's worth, here's some good advice.
It's always easier to go through stressful processes and seasons with friends by your side. While it's such an exciting time as well, finding and buying a new house definitely brings its own set of challenges and hangups to the table. So I've been glad that four different people in our office have been trying to find new houses all at the same time. There's emotional strength in numbers for sure, and it's been nice to share our similar successes and horror stories with each other. Since we are all buying houses for at least the second time, we've certainly learned a few things in the process that we thought we'd pass along to our other friends—you! Here are the top things to keep in mind if you are looking for a new place to call home.
Make a list of priorities: Like the Rolling Stones say, "you can’t always get what you want," so you'll want to make sure that you have a solid list of priorities in order of what's most important to you and strive to get at least the top things on that list in one place. Unless you are just the luckiest duck on the planet or have an unlimited budget to build everything to your exact specifications, you'll eventually have to give up something on your list, but you'll want it to be a lower priority item. Are you most concerned about location? Square footage? A private backyard?
You may have to forgo one thing to get another, but it's easier to be more focused when you know what's a nonnegotiable. Also, decide which things are preferences vs. needs on your list as well. For example, I loved the vaulted ceilings we had at our last house and really wanted to have them in our next space as well. I kept trying to hold out for tall ceilings, but the house that fit our top priorities was actually a Mid-century ranch. No vaulted ceilings anywhere. I had to realize that what was a "need" was actually more of a "want" and just switch my visual expectations a bit to get the things that really mattered most.