What is the single most important thing to remember in buying a home?

Here’s a hint: There isn’t one single thing. There are interest rates, personal savings, location location location, type of home, energy efficiency, whether to move or renovate–in short, so many things it is easy to get overwhelmed.

Maybe the first place to start is the most difficult: Taking the emotion out of the equation. It’s easy to fall in love with a home, but if it’s more than you can afford you need to step back. Do you really need that fifth bedroom, that third bathroom, the porch in the front and the deck in the back? If it’s the colors that say “Buy me,” remember, you can paint whatever you buy.

Eliminating the emotion in other buying decisions will also help both your focus and your bottom line.     Not that it’s easy, particularly when there are so many inducements to do the things that make homebuying difficult. Start with the glut of advertisements telling you how much you need that new car, or a snowmobile, gym membership, new clothes. And how much you’ll save by buying now! Never mind that the more you save the easier it will be to buy that home.

If you don’t have a  budget, this is the perfect time to start one. It will help you see just how much you pay for that daily cappuccino on a monthly basis, and may spark even more savings.

Mostly, whatever plan you develop, stick to it. And like dieting, if you fall off every once in a while, that’s okay. Just get back on the budget, and don’t let one slip mean the end of it.

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