While others are making New Year resolutions to stop smoking or lose weight, you could make a resolution to start the new year looking for a new house. A new home is a great beginning, and what better time to do that than when the calendar changes and starts fresh?

There are several steps you can take, and goals you can set, in order to help you with this life-changing journey of finding and purchasing your dream home.

List Your Needs and Desires

The first step in the home-buying process is to make a list of what you need in a new home — the non-negotiables that must be there — as well as your wants and desires.

Your needs might include the school zone you want your child to be in, a certain number of bedrooms, a large back yard for the dog, or a location close to your work.

Your wants could include granite countertops, chef’s stainless-steel appliances, walk-in closets, a pool, an open floor plan or a three-car garage. They’re not absolutely necessary but you would really like to have them.

To make this list, consider what you love and don’t like about your current home. Is it too small but in a great neighborhood? The perfect design, but inconvenient for your lifestyle? Writing these things down will help solidify your dream home and ensure you’re not wasting time looking at the wrong size homes, the wrong floor plans, or in the wrong part of town.

Some things may be negotiable. For example, if the yard is small but it’s close to a playground or dog park, maybe you can be happy walking the few blocks. If there’s a community pool, maybe that’s as good as having your own — with less work and cost. If you want a garden but there’s no room for it, you could plant a container garden on the back patio instead.

Some things might be attainable down the road. For example, if the kitchen counters or appliances aren’t what you wanted, or the décor is the wrong shade, these are things you can renovate after you’ve lived in the home for a while.

Decide what you must have, and what you would like but could do without. And write it all down, and then rank it in terms of needs, strong desires, and lesser wants.

Research the Options

These days, you can start your home search online. Check the listings in the area you like, and evaluate what size homes are available at what cost. Also consider whether you want to purchase a resale home, or build your own new house from the ground up.

You can pre-qualify for a mortgage to see what you can afford. Also research the school zoning, shopping and dining options in the neighborhoods you like. Spend as much time as you like getting a feel for the market and the options available in your price range.

Keep in mind that you may have to adjust some of your wants in order to fit your budget or location. That’s okay, since this is a journey, not just a destination.

Once you have a feel for what you want and where you’d like to focus, it’s time to bring in a professional who can help the whole process run smoothly.

Choose an Agent

If you’d like to build a new home, you can take a look at the model homes in new construction neighborhoods. But sometimes the choices can be overwhelming, and the salespeople on site aren’t neutral consultants.

Meeting with a Realtor will allow you to better evaluate your options. A good real estate agent will tell you the pros and cons of certain neighborhoods, whether your situation would be best with a new home or resale purchase, what length and terms of mortgage will best suit your budget, and give you some insider tips and tricks that you wouldn’t have known on your own.

Start with an online request or a phone call, but plan to meet with the agent at her office. This is the best way to find the right agent and determine whether he or she is a good fit for you. You want an agent who understands your needs, listens to your wants, and can present options that check as many boxes as possible.

If you’ve been having trouble pinpointing what your needs and desires are, or if your list doesn’t jive with your spouse or family’s wants, a good agent can also suggest compromises you can make and solutions that will work for everybody.

Set Your Budget

With the help of your real estate agent, determine what your actual budget is. She can let you know about certain programs that you might qualify for, and recommend whether a 30-year mortgage is going to work better than a 10-year loan for your specific situation.

Your agent can also help you determine what other costs are involved that you may not have thought about, like moving expenses, home repairs, renovations, utilities, landscape maintenance, and more. And they will let you know about any warranties that come with the home, or insurances that you should be considering adding.

You should have one budget for the upfront costs that you’ll need to pay in order to live in your new home, and another budget for improvements that you might like to make, either now or down the road. This includes paint, carpeting, window coverings, landscaping and renovation expenses.

Make Your Choice

Now that you know your wants and needs, your budget, and the options available, it’s time to choose your new home. Don’t feel like you need to rush if you’re not finding the perfect dream home, but be realistic about whether a home will work for you for the next few years (or decades). If it only fits 80% of your list but you love things about it that you hadn’t even considered, it might be a match made in heaven.

If you have deadlines in your life, like an upcoming wedding, new child, or new job — and you absolutely must be settled in your new home before that happens — then go ahead and fast-track the process as much as possible. But if you can wait, and you feel you need a bit more time, go ahead and take it.

Just keep in mind that when it’s a seller’s market, you need to move a little faster when you find something you like. Otherwise, somebody else can scoop it up while you’re mulling it over.

Choose a Community Expert

If you’d like to consider starting your new home search this new year, it’s the perfect time to connect with Realtor Dulcie Crawford. She’s a community expert who knows all the neighborhoods in the Las Vegas Valley, and goes above and beyond the competition, making her the perfect choice to help you buy your new home.

Dulcie was born and raised in Las Vegas and has deep native roots going back to the 1960s. Dulcie’s father, Joseph Crawford, was a Las Vegas lawyer during the mob years until the mid-1990s. She attended the prestigious Bishop Gorman College Preparatory High School, graduating in the Class of 1986. Her mother and father settled in a historic ranch community home built by Collins Brothers Development, same as the Flamingo Hotel. Dulcie has now renovated the family ranch home and loves living in Central Las Vegas again, close to the pulse of the Las Vegas Strip.

Dulcie has over 24 years of local real estate expertise. She understands the city and its trends and opportunities more than anyone. Dulcie has watched Vegas rise and fall and rise again, and can help you pinpoint and locate the perfect home for you. To find out more about working with Dulcie and her award-winning team, or to get more information about the current housing market conditions, properties featured on this blog, or our Hot Market Listings, please contact Dulcie Crawford directly at (702) 505-2775.