Before you begin the search for a new home, you'll want to figure out what your home absolutely has to have—and this can be overwhelming because there are so many different factors and features. Read on for an easily digestible overview of how to narrow down your options.
If you haven't determined what all you want from your home, there are a number of things to consider. Some of the most important factors you'll want to evaluate include:
  • Location
  • Size
  • Existing home or new construction
  • Type of home


The location of your new home could easily be the most important aspect of home shopping. Location is important not only for your current needs, but for future selling opportunities as well.
You should ask yourself what you want out of your location:
  • Do you want to be close to work?
  • What type of neighborhood would you feel most comfortable in—would you prefer an upscale one, or is a redevelopment neighborhood an option?
  • If you have children, is it important to live near good schools?
  • Do you want to be close to shopping, grocery stores, recreation, or medical facilities?
  • Are you looking for a safe neighborhood with low crime levels?
If you're interested in a location that you know nothing about, reconsider. Many homeowners move to a city without ensuring that the neighborhood is a good fit for them, and this can lead to problems down the line. Make sure you get to know your future neighborhood—look into crime and safety, its curb appeal, and local demographics.
Also Consider:
If you might decide to sell the home at some point, make sure the property is in a desirable location. It's doubtful that future buyers will be eager to purchase a home that's 13 miles from the grocery store and next to a busy railroad track.


The size and number of bedrooms and baths of your new home should be determined by your lifestyle. If you have children or are planning to in the near future, a home with two or more bedrooms would be ideal. Conversely, a single-bedroom home could work well if you'll be living alone or with your partner.
Here are some other questions to consider:
  • Will I be living with anyone else? If so, will we need our own spaces or sepa rate rooms?
  • Do I have guests over often? Do I need a guest room?
  • (If you have children) Do I want a special play area for my children?
  • Am I considering having a child or children in the near future? Do I need extra rooms?
You should also think about what exactly you want from each room, whether you want a large kitchen for cooking or maybe a walk-in closet in your bedroom.

Movoto's Buyer Tip:

Think ahead. One of the most common mistakes that first-time home buyers—particularly younger single buyers—make is to purchase the wrong size home.  If you're only shopping for one at the moment, ask yourself what you hope to gain from your new home:
  • How long do you plan to live in your new home? Five years or under alone might make a smaller condo or house ideal, while 10 years or more could mean you're looking at a family in the future and should consider buying bigger.
  • Is meeting a potential spouse or life partner a possibility within the next few years? If so, buying more than a one-bedroom condo might be a good option. twice the living expenses

New or Existing Home

While new and existing homes both have their advantages and drawbacks, in the end the answer really comes down to the needs of the buyer.
So what should you consider when making the decision?
  • Whether you want to buy new: If you want the security of a home that's never been used and was designed to your specifications, new construction is perfect for you.
  • Affordability: A new home will cost more but require less maintenance, while an existing property might get expensive if you need to do repairs or update building safety codes.
  • Location: If living in an established neighborhood and being close to a metro area are two priorities for your location, consider an existing home. New construction is typically farther away from city centers and in an undeveloped area.
  • Rate of appreciation: A newly built home can appreciate as fast as or more quickly than an existing house, but it's become more difficult for new homes to increase in value in the current market.
  • Amenities: If you want the latest appliances and amenities such as a jacuzzi or marble countertops, a new home might be the better option for you.
Ultimately the choice depends on whether the home itself or the general area is of greater importance to the buyer.

Type of Home

There are four main types of homes that you want to be familiar with when you begin your search:
  • Single-family homes
  • Condominiums
  • Townhouses
  • Cooperative apartments
A single-family home, as its name implies, is a house occupied by one family that typically has a driveway, a garage, and front and back lawns. This is the most common type of home, and an ideal option to go with if you have a family or seek a larger living space.
Condominiums (or condos) are individually owned units in an apartment-like structure, and they are probably best suited for couples or individuals because they're smaller than single-family homes. Townhouses are another option if you fit this group--these attached properties are typically similar in size and style to condos.
If you're looking for more of a communal living experience, cooperative apartments might be for you--these properties are similar to condos, except for being jointly owned by the residents and the corporation who owns the building.
It's perfectly acceptable to be indecisive when it comes to purchasing a home. You shouldn't close on one unless you're absolutely sure it fits your budget and is the perfect house for you. Your agent or broker is there to show you your options--there's no harm in getting your money's worth out of his or her services.

I Think I Know What I Want—What Do I Do Now?

Once you've accumulated a list (or at least a better idea) of what you seek from your home, you can use the Movoto Basic Search or Custom Search tool to input a price range, a neighborhood or county, a property size, and more to find houses that fit your qualifications.

Movoto's Buyer Tip:

Once you begin your search, be prepared to trudge through many "no"s before you find your "yes." If you're coming from a frustrating living situation and are dying to get out, you might think that anything with two doors and four walls looks good. But in order to find the home that best suits you, be sure to:
  • Physically visit at least 5 to 10 homes, maybe even more, to check out what's available for your price range
  • Check out different types of homes, including condos, townhouses, and single-family houses
  • Visit your favorites again for a second look-over


Tips & Traps When Buying a Home: 4th Edition, by Robert Irwin Home Buying Guide for Dummies: 3rd Edition, by Ray Brown and Eric Tyson 100 Questions Every First-Time Home Buyer Should Ask, by Ilyce R. Glink