Keep in mind that it may take a week to look through the list of houses that fit your criteria, a couple of days to a month before you find the perfect house (depending on your availability to look at houses) and 30-45 days (or more) to secure financing if you’re getting a loan. With that in mind, you should start looking 2-3 months before you have to move.
The first criteria is price. Although you may know what price range you want to stay in, getting pre-approved from a local lender is the best way to get yourself on track. They will let you know the top dollar their company will lend you for a home so you’re not wasting your time looking at houses you can’t buy. Lenders can also help you figure out what type of financing is best for you, different programs you may qualify for and answer any questions you have about loans.
The next priority is to develop a detailed description of the home you hope to find. Be as specific as you want. Variables to consider include style and layout of house, number of bedrooms and baths, location (city, county, zip code..) , lot size, and other special requirements. If you have kids or plan to have kids, think about which school districts you prefer and look there first. Number your preferences in order of greatest importance to you.
After you have selected your criteria, find an Accredited Buyer Representative (Like me) who can help you throughout the process and show you homes. If you don’t know any ABR certified REALTORS, check the ABR website here: http://www.rebac.net/MembershipDirectorySearch.aspx
I hope this helps you think about the different aspects of searching for a home. Knowing exactly what you want helps reduce the time it takes to find your dream home! If you have any questions, feel free to contact me.