Before you start your search for a home, assess your financial situation and decide whether you will purchase with cash or financing. Unless you are a cash buyer, you should get pre-qualified by a lender for a loan. Then take out a piece of paper and make a wish list. One story or two? How many bedrooms and bathrooms? How many cars need to fit in the garage? Do you want a pool or spa? Is it important for you to be in a gated community or in a particular school zone?