How to Find Your Dream Home: Essential Tips

Searching for your perfect home? Discover essential tips and strategies to find your dream home.

Real Estate
February 10, 2024
How to Find Your Dream Home: Essential Tips

The dream home hunt is a well-documented aspect of American culture. If you need proof, turn your thoughts to the many house-hunting HGTV shows on the subject –– how many can you name? No matter the premise, for the participants of those programs, the search is fairly straightforward: A realtor/television personality finds a handful of homes in a given price range and desirable locale, then the homebuyers carefully consider their perks and shortcomings, make a final decision, and are almost instantly handed the keys. But in the real world, the process of how to find your dream home tends to be far more extensive (and, admittedly, less entertaining.) 

Fortunately for those who don’t have a paid presenter to lead the way, we have compiled our essential tips for how to find your dream home. Read on to simplify your search and find the perfect property. 

Tip #1 Figuring Out What Defines Your Dream Home

Like the shoppers on HGTV –– whose expectations can sometimes be a bit too clarified –– you’ve got to know what you’re looking for in a home. Certain characteristics make a property more appealing. But what makes one a dream home? Narrow down your needs and wants in the following criteria when searching: 

  • Size: The definition of a dream home varies from person to person and changes along with housing trends, but size tends to be a frequent dream home qualifier.1 With that said, bigger doesn’t necessarily mean better. As you attempt to identify the markings of your dream home, think about how much space you realistically need. Do you need a home with large square footage and extensive floor plans? This can also include the number of bedrooms, bathrooms, and any additional living space –– like a garage, rec room, or home office. 
  • Location: Maybe the idea of seclusion is a recurring theme in your daydreams, or perhaps it’s convenience that comes to mind. Factors like proximity to work, the quality of local schools, and the overall architectural style of the surrounding community may play a key role in determining how “dreamy” a given property is. 
  • Amenities: For some buyers, features can make or break a property’s dream home status. No claw foot tub or terrazzo floors, or a cramped, cook-unfriendly kitchen? Sorry, you’re not on the list. Before beginning the search for your dream home, think of the must-have features that will help you narrow down the hunt. Make an informed decision by considering whether having access to a large outdoor space or a pool is important to your preferences. As you do so, be careful to distinguish between what you need, what you can live without, and what can be added down the road, as this can be a rather costly delineation. 
  • Price: Can you put a price tag on a dream? When it comes to real estate, definitely. In fact, price tends to be the number one factor buyers consider when shopping for a new home.2 Therefore, establishing a budget will be crucial not only for directing you toward your dream home but also for ensuring your dreams aren’t ultimately dashed. Consider more than just the purchase price –– property taxes, homeowners insurance, and any necessary renovations will play a key role in the overall financial picture. 

Tip #2 Understanding the Importance of Financial Planning

Allow us to take a moment to say that the quest for your dream home should and will be fun. But what they can’t show you in 22 minutes of television is the immense financial planning that will precede your search. Browse to your heart’s delight, but to be certain you’re ready to pounce when the right home arrives, take great care to get your finances in order before you begin your search in earnest.  

For many, this will begin with a financial pulse check –– with your credit score and current budget (if applicable) landing beneath the microscope. Determine how much you can afford, how much you need to save for a downpayment, and what changes you may need to make to improve your credit score before securing pre-approval for a mortgage. As you take inventory, remember to factor in things like closing costs, moving expenses, and a well-funded emergency account for any unexpected repairs that may arise. Proactive financial planning can expedite your housing search, but it may be the difference between landing your dream home and coming up empty-handed. 

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Tip #3 Utilizing Technology and Resources

Each day, people drive past idyllic cottages with “FOR SALE” signs in the yard, sigh, “It’s perfect,” make an offer, and are subsequently promoted from window shopper to dream homeowner. But it’s far easier –– albeit less cinematic –– to leverage the myriad tech-powered resources at your disposal.  

In the digital age, technology is one of a homebuyer’s greatest allies. Online listings on sites like Zillow,, Trulia, and Redfin allow you to explore available properties and even embark on virtual tours to narrow down your options with a single swipe. Even perusing online real estate listings through Google’s search results can help you find your perfect house.  Apps and websites can also help you navigate and understand the logistics of buying a home. Others allow you to compare mortgage rates, calculate payments, and determine the best path forward without pressure from a lender. 

Tip #4 Recognizing the Role of Real Estate Professionals

Technology will be an invaluable asset in the search for the perfect property. But if you’re wondering how to find your dream house, the answer will likely be enlisting the expertise of a real estate professional. Here’s why:

  • Market insights: An expert real estate agent has a deep understanding of local market trends, what constitutes “fair” pricing, and existing inventory. The combination of these skills can help you find your dream home while staying within your budget and on your timeline.
  • Negotiation skills: Real estate agents are skilled negotiators –– it’s part of their job to help you get the best deal possible. Enlisting a professional means having someone to take ownership of the back and forth, making offers and counteroffers on your behalf.
  • Paperwork: Anyone who has purchased a home before will agree that the buying process involves an obscene amount of paperwork –– requiring as many as 13 separate documents, in some cases.3 An experienced agent will guide you through this process, ensuring you keep all of your documentation in order (and helping you avoid a paper cut or two.)
  • Access to Professional Networks: In some ways, hiring one real estate professional can feel like hiring several professionals. This is because experienced real estate agents have an extensive network of contacts, ranging from lawyers and sell-side realtors to inspectors and contractors. These contacts can help smooth your dream home search, the closing process, and well beyond. 

Hiring a real estate professional can feel like just another cost affiliated with finding your dream home. But with your keys in hand, the walls of your dream home around you, and nary a new gray hair in sight, you may find the added convenience to be well worth it. 

Tip #5 Exploring Different Neighborhoods

While we’ve talked about the importance of narrowing down your ideal price, amenities, and size before beginning your search, finding your dream neighborhood is just as important as finding your dream house. If you have an area in mind, develop a short list of local neighborhoods and make it a point not just to drive through but to spend time in these places. Sample local coffee shops, explore parks, and commune with the locals to get an accurate feel –– and return or stay for dinner to get an idea of traffic patterns and noise levels. 

Tip #6 Navigating the Home-Buying Process

The home buying process can be daunting (see the above list of reasons for enlisting the help of a real estate agent.) With an understanding of these steps, however, you can dial back the stress meter and focus on the excitement of finding your dream home. 

Each stage requires careful attention, from making an initial offer to undergoing a home appraisal and inspection –– and ultimately sealing the deal. But it also requires patience and flexibility. Be prepared to negotiate, face and endure possible setbacks, and traverse this complex process knowing what treasure awaits on the other side. 

Tip #7 Preparing for Homeownership

If you’re purchasing your first dream home, you should know that the hurdles don’t end when the purchase is finalized. And for every exciting adventure homeownership brings, there’s an equal (and maybe even additional) responsibility. 

From the long-term maintenance and regular upkeep of your property to things like property taxes, plan accordingly for these regular expenses. By staying on top of your responsibilities as a homeowner, you can ensure that living in your home remains a dream. 

Tip #8 Overcoming Common Challenges

On your journey toward dream homeownership, you’re almost destined to face a few challenges. Preparation, resiliency, and creativity will be a winning combination should you come across these and other common obstacles.

Bidding Wars

In hot housing markets, like St. Louis, homes are receiving as many as 20–30 bids, meaning the age of the bidding war is still very much upon us.4 But don’t be discouraged by this reality! Instead, embrace the trifecta of tools outlined above. Prepare for a lengthy bid process by clearly outlining your budget to ensure you don’t overspend. Enhance your resiliency by keeping in mind that missing out on this property won’t be the end of the world. And flex your creative muscles by writing a personal, heartfelt letter to the sellers –– this personal touch could make a dream home’s worth of difference. 

Financing Hurdles

Financing woes are common among aspiring homeowners, but this obstacle is more than likely surmountable. Before applying for financing, do what you can to improve your credit score. This will not only improve your likelihood of qualifying for a mortgage but improve your rate once you do. Give yourself ample time to shop around and save up, ensuring you’re getting the best deal and financing as little of your dream home as possible. And, if you can, use favorable rates from competing lenders to lower rates all around. 

Timing Your Move

Oftentimes, buying a dream home means parting with a (decidedly less dreamy) one. Finding the best time to move can prove difficult, especially when juggling packing up your old home and closing on the new one. The existence of these variables can make moving a challenge, and seldom does the sale of your existing property align perfectly with the purchase of your new home. This can be a costly challenge for some homeowners –– who are forced to rent a home or apartment and storage units until the purchase is finalized. But by thinking creatively, there is a cost-effective path forward. Discover more tips on how to make moving easier.

Take Your Time Finding Your Dream Home With Truehold

Through Truehold’s sale-leaseback, you can sell your property to unlock your equity, and continue living in it as a renter for as long as you’d like. Then, you can use your newfound equity to make a competitive cash offer on your dream home or fund construction. All of this takes away the stress of selling your home, giving you as much time as you need to find the perfect home.

Whether you use your equity to buy another home or build your dream home from scratch, Truehold can help.

To learn more about how Truehold can help on your quest for your dream home, connect with one of our trusted advisors –– and get a cash offer on your home within 48 hours. 


1. Investopedia. Moving Up: Dream House or Money Pit?

2. Forbes. What To Look For When Buying A House. 

3. Bankrate. Documents needed to buy a house. 

4. Yahoo! Finance. Housing: Bidding wars erupt as 2024 kicks off, with some listings seeing over 30 offers.

Lucas Grohn headshot
Written by
Lucas Grohn
Senior Manager of Sales at Truehold - A Thought-Leader in Real Estate
Lucas Grohn brings over a decade of real estate expertise to his role, where he guides a team dedicated to innovative sales strategies. Known for his thought leadership and diverse experience, from managing brokerage operations to training agents at top firms, Lucas covers a broad span of real estate content for Truehold.
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Truehold's blog is committed to delivering timely and pertinent insights in real estate and finance, purely for educational and informational purposes. Crafted by experts, our content is thoroughly reviewed to guarantee its accuracy and dependability. Although designed to enlighten and engage, our articles are not intended as financial advice and should not be the sole basis for financial decisions. Our stringent editorial practices ensure the integrity of our content, empowering our readers with valuable knowledge.

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