Ready to purchase your first home? Read this first.

First of all, congratulations on reaching this stage of your life! Buying a home isn’t an easy thing, but it doesn’t have to be something that paralyzes you with fear.

You learn many things as a first-time homebuyer and a homeowner. Read on for the most significant pieces of advice from people experienced in the real estate market.

1. Do your research on the location
The most important thing you can do is to make sure that the area is perfect for you. Do a lot of sleuthing to find neighborhoods that fit your lifestyle and what you’re looking for. Drive through the neighborhoods to get a feel for them and gauge things vital to you, like noise level or privacy. Check whether houses and yards in the area are well maintained. Get a feel for the neighbors and how they care for the community.

2. Narrow down your must-haves and non-negotiables.
If your non-negotiable is ensuring that you have ample space and privacy from your neighbors, you won’t want to look at houses in a dense suburban neighborhood. If you know for a fact that seeing your neighbors every day is going to drive you crazy, don’t have your realtor look at houses in dense areas.

3. Interview a few real estate agents
You don’t have to settle on the first agent you come across. Get a feel for the different types of real estate agents and their work style. You need to click with them, and they have to understand precisely what you need. This person needs to guide you through the legalities as well as through the home inspection process, so they need to be someone you can trust!

4. Clean up your financials
Double check your credit score and get your finances in order. You should ideally apply to get pre-approved for a mortgage before you start looking at homes. Have an idea what you can realistically afford and make sure you’re looking at the tax rates on your property! Remember, many times, that fantastic school district comes with a price.

5. Don’t rush it
This isn’t a process that happens in a few days. Most people spend months looking for their perfect home. And because it’s such a big purchase, you need to be able to devote most weekends and evenings to look through homes and neighborhoods. Once you find a home you think you like, come back to it several times during different times of day to see the activity around it. Look on Google maps to identify potential nuisances nearby and ensure your location is perfect.

6. Make compromises
Found a place that meets all your non-negotiables but it’s missing a few “must-haves” that aren’t that important in the grand scheme of things? Maybe it’s the perfect location, perfect price, but it doesn’t have that pool you wanted. Consider the long-game. Can you eventually build a pool on the property? There are things you can work around or add eventually as long as everything else is right.

7. Take a breather
You might find that the perfect home you thought you were going to get doesn’t work out. Maybe you were outbid, or the seller refuses to budge on price. Or perhaps the home inspection comes back with many problems. It’s ok. Walk away, recuperate, and come back to the table ready to continue the search. That perfect home is out there for you!