Whether you're looking for a home right now or plan to be on the hunt some time this year, don't just stumble into a house hunt unprepared. While the process is exciting, there might be a few things you want to make sure you have on hand during the search so you can hunt for the home of your dreams smarter.
1. A trusted friend
Even if you're searching with an agent, you might still want to enlist a friend (preferably someone who's been through the home buying process before) to get sage advice from. And if they know you, your personality and your style, they might help you see clearly when you're being blinded by price or other charming home elements.
2. Your list of priorities and a checklist to run down
That assembly of dream home elements that are floating around in your head? Write them down as a list instead, organized by priority of what you and your family need in a home. It'll help you stay focused when you run into neat design elements in houses that while are great to look at, aren't what you need or even necessarily want. Also consider taking a physical list with you of the things you should look for when looking at homes — like the roof, plumbing, neighborhood — in case you get excited and forget all about it when you see big windows and real wood flooring.
3. A notepad and pencil
You'll want it with you to take notes and maybe even sketch floor plans. Don't trust your memory after looking at lots of properties; you might mix them up. And it'll be helpful to have when you do any second, third or more viewings.
4. A camera
Yes, these days real estate listings come with plenty of pretty photos to flip through, but bring your own camera anyway to record the things that caught your eye — from beautiful design elements to flaws that you want to remember. It'll be helpful to take notes alongside the images so you have references to go back through.
5. Comfortable, easy-to-slip off shoes
House hunting is physical work, and you'll want comfortable shoes you can walk all over with. But since some open houses might require you to take your shoes off before viewing the home, maybe leave those lace-up, knee-high boots at home so you don't get frustrated every time you want to see the inside of a property.
6. Furniture measurements and a tape measure
For those with large or unusual furniture pieces they know they'll be moving with and those looking at particularly tiny homes for sale, you might consider bringing a few important furniture measurements to see how your style and furnishings might fit into the homes you're looking to buy. This shouldn't be the reason you pass on a great deal or location, but it could factor into the decision making process.
What did you or do you take with you on house hunting trips?