Finding the perfect home is not easy. How do you know whether the best property for you would be one of the new condominimums in Yorkville annex or one of the older homes in the inner ring suburbs? Or a town house just off of the downtown area? Or a cottage in the hills? Even if you do have it narrowed down to a property type, there may be hundreds for sale that seem on the surface like they might fit your needs. How will you ever narrow it down? By creating a condominium wish list to give to your real estate agent, who can use it to guide his or her search for your new home.
Price range is obviously going to be the biggest and least flexible limitation on your search. Talk to your bank or get pre-approved for a mortgage to see how much wiggle room you have in your budget. You can get around paying a high price for your new home by being flexible on the location (homes further from the city center or in up and coming areas will be cheaper) or on the size (smaller homes are almost always cheaper unless they're luxury condos).
Next you'll have to compile a list of the hard and fast needs your family has when it comes to living space. If it's absolutely essential that you have an attic or basement for storage, an in-law suite to accommodate your elderly parents, a backyard where your dogs can play, or four bedrooms to accommodate all your children, these things should be at the top of your wish list. If you're willing to be flexible on some of these issues (such as having your children share rooms) you will have more options in your price range.
Move-in readiness is something a lot of homeowners are looking for these days, which often means a newly renovated kitchen and bathroom as well as an open plan main living area with hardwood throughout. If you're willing to put a little work into the home to get it to where you want to be, your agent can often find you a home where you will save a lot on the asking price - perhaps even more than you will need to renovate it to perfection, so if a fixer upper is a possibility, be sure to mention it.
And finally, to help guide your agent you should list some of the things you like in homes but aren't a requirement, such as closeness to public transit, dedicated office space, granite countertops, three car garages, or finished basements.