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Starting the hunt for the perfect home can be a lot of fun, especially when things are put into their right order.

The first step in any home search is to calculate how much you can afford. In the old days, we used to do this with ratios and calculators. Today, there is a much easier way - the online pre-approval.

Even a ratio cannot tell you for sure how much house you can afford. Most people are surprised at the number of options available from lenders and the numerous new programs that allow for a great deal of flexibility. So go online and get pre-approved.

Once you know how much you can afford, sit down with everyone involved in the decision and decide the "must haves." These are the items that are not negotiable and that you cannot compromise on. They may include a school district that you need to be in, a number of bedrooms, and so forth. Remember, this part is not a wish list. These are the things that you must have. Give this list to your RE/MAX Realtor and have them start with you there.

Once your Realtor is aware of both how much you can spend and what the must haves are, they can show you a large number of homes or you can view them online. This will let you get a good idea of some of the wants that you have. As those "wants and wishes" become apparent, you can narrow your search more effectively.

Now here's the fun part - Let your Realtor work for you. Have them dig up the best 4 or 5 deals that they think fit all of your needs and as many of your wants and wishes as possible. Then spend a couple of days going to each one. By viewing several different houses, you will be able to eliminate the type of home that isn't right for you.

Once the right home becomes apparent, you will then be able to make an offer. This is the most efficient way to get the right home for you.