Whether you’re ready to settle into your first home or looking to buy your fifth; are moving cross-country or cross-town, it’s smart to identify which attributes of a new home are most important to you. Be sure to sit down with your real estate agent and discuss your needs and wants for your new house. Here are five topics to think about when buying a home:

1) What You Can’t Live Without
Our lifestyle choices are often reflected in the homes we buy. Are you a motorcycle fanatic? If so, a roomy garage would be important to you. Have a big family? You’ll likely need to buy a home with at least four bedrooms. Perhaps you or your spouse is a gourmet cook. In that case, a well-designed kitchen could be a must for you. Before your real estate agent begins a home buying search for you, he or she will want to know which home attributes you can’t live without.

2) Schools and Family Needs
The quality of school systems has long been of importance to home-buying families. If you have children or are thinking about having children in your new home, you’ll want to discuss school information and statistics with your real estate agent. Not only is it important to consider the location of your home relative to area schools, but you’ll also want to think about the quality and diversity of local school offerings. Your real estate agent can provide statistics and information about both public and private schools in all the neighborhoods in which you’re considering buying a home.

3) Commuting
With our island lifestyle, commuting isn’t much of an issue, but even some type of commute can detract from a home-buyer’s quality of life and the time he or she gets to spend at home. If having little or no commute to work is important to you, convey this to your real estate agent.

4) Community Details
Whether you hope to live in a vibrant urban neighborhood, or a charming country town, the demographics, details and community statistics of a particular area are almost as important a consideration when buying a home as the details of the house itself. Do you want to live in the thick of the action? Prefer to get away from it all? If a particular aspect of a community is important to you -like a defined downtown area – be sure to tell your real estate agent so that he or she can keep this consideration at the forefront of your home search. We are all familiar with the amenities of every location on our island, so just let us know what’s important.

5) Budget
Of course, the most rigid constraint of a home-buying search is typically the buyer’s budget. Defining budget parameters quickly and early focuses a home search to a particular segment of the market. However, with the creative lending solutions available today, budget constraints are not as rigid as they once were or as many home-buyers assume them to be. Many innovative mortgage options are now available to both first-time and veteran home-buyers. Before beginning a home search, you should get preapproved for the amount of a mortgage – then you and your realtor can be realistic in your home search.