night scene of modern waterfront villa with meadow outdoors and illuminated sky

Love is in the air and can leave many renters longing to make the leap to homeownership. Are you looking for a long-term living arrangement? Follow these steps to find the right home match for you.

Make a List

“When looking for the perfect house, I always recommend that people make a list of their ‘needs’ and ‘wants,’ says Philip Lang, COO and co-founder of TripleMint NYC, a purchase and rental real estate website.

Like many relationships, the home hunting process typically involves compromise and concessions.

“Deciding on your deal-breakers is a great place to start,” Lang advises.

When making your list, think about the values that are most important to you. Do you need extra space for indoor or outdoor entertaining? In which rooms do you see yourself spending the most time?

“Answering realistically and not aspirationally is important here,” Lang says. “The ultimate factor, though, is price. What compromises are you willing to make to hit your budget, or where do you have room to stretch for a house that has everything on your ‘want’ list?”

Create an Inspiration Board

“As a Realtor, I always tell my clients that there is no such thing as too much research,” says Naomi Hattaway, founder of 8th & Home Real Estate and Relocation.

The popular website Pinterest.com is perfect for style discovery. Do you prefer spiral staircases or coved ceilings? Brick and mortar or vinyl siding? Create a virtual style board and pin the pictures of home features that you love. First search using general terms like “front yard” or “staircase.” Then narrow the results by adding on the suggested keywords located below the search field.

Is your house hunt a team effort? Include the other’s preferences by adding them to the board via a Pinterest profile or email address so that you can easily collaborate on ideas.

Not a fan of sifting through virtual fireplace mantels? You can still channel your inner artist to craft your ideal house with a collage of clippings from real estate, home and other design magazines.

Visit Open Houses

“The other important consideration is to spend time going to open house events to learn about what aspects of a home you just love, and which things you would rather do without,” Hattaway says.

If you’re house hunting with a spouse, significant other or family member, be sure to bring them to the open houses. Hattaway recommends watching their body language as they view different homes with you.

“Are they drawn to the big back yard, or do they congregate in the kitchen, admiring its features?” asks Hattaway. This awareness will help you connect with the other’s preferences, and hopefully will make finding the right home match a smoother experience.

Scout the Surroundings

“When house hunting, don’t only look at the property itself, but at the area and neighborhood as well,” says real estate expert Emma Clark from The Art of Home Renovations. Consider the commute to work, the neighbors, proximity of parks and schools. Do you prefer a family oriented neighborhood or a quieter retiree community?

The Match.com for your home search, NeighborhoodScout.com, helps house hunters navigate their way to the perfect home pairing. Build your preferred neighborhood match by factoring in crime risk, lifestyle and school preferences.

Make the First Move

Have you already fallen in love with a home? Getting preapproved is one of the first steps in the home buying process. Find the ideal mortgage for your home with Rocket Mortgage® by Quicken Loans®. Get an intelligent, customizable mortgage match in minutes, completely online!

Is this your first time looking for a home? Don’t be shy – get some helpful advice from real estate agents so you can know what to look for.

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