Shopping for home is always an important process, whether you're buying your very first house or planning your next move. Buying a home for a great price can result in helpful equity down the line; on the other hand, buying a home for too high of a price can result in being underwater on your mortgage. When you're ready to hit the real estate market, you'll want to give yourself plenty of time to meet with lenders and evaluate numerous properties. The home-buying process can be lengthy and arduous, but this gives you plenty of time to make sure you are making the right decision for you, your family and your finances.

Have any crimes been committed on this property?

Homes that were sites of murders and other crimes are not always easy to sell, and most people eventually end up selling the homes they buy. Check with your local police department to learn about crimes that have happened at this residence, or you can also go to your local courthouse and search electronic court and criminal records for more information. You could also check the archives of your local newspaper, or even try searching for the address online.

What is the zoning of nearby land?

If you want a quiet home, make sure there's no land around it zoned for high-density growth. Or, if your goal is to develop land and sell it, make sure the zoning plan for your property allows that to happen.

How much could I afford for a mortgage payment?

A financial planner can evaluate your budget and help you determine a magic number for what your mortgage should be. Be sure to tell your planner about all of your income, how stable your jobs are, and how long you plan on keeping your home.

When was this home built?

Knowing when homes are built is vital to learning more about how they were built and problems they may have. On the flipside, knowing when a home is built can also help you determine some of the home's selling points. For example, slightly older homes were often built with better building materials than some new homes built today, and they may still be in very good condition.

How long has this home been on the market?

Checking a home's market history can give you a heads-up on potential red flags, either with the property or even the seller. If there were multiple offers that were rejected or pulled off the table, then you may want to think really hard before putting down an offer yourself.

Is this home in a nice neighborhood?

Being in a good neighborhood is just as important as having a nice home. You not only want to feel safe where you live, but you don't want to walk into any long-lasting bitter neighborhood disputes. Before buying a home, make sure to talk with police about the area where you want to move, and also talk to neighbors about their feelings of the area. You are likely to get a good idea of what to expect if you move in.

Is there space for a home office?

If you have the ability to work from home, then you may be able to save some money at tax time by designating a portion of your home as your home office. Of course, this means you actually have to use this space for work and not for storage or non-work activities.

Can the previous owner include a home warranty?

Home warranties are great because they protect you from many of the expensive problems that can come with home ownership. Buying an annual home warranty plan isn't terribly expensive, either. If you can get the previous owner to buy a home warranty for your first year of home ownership, then that acts as a sort of warranty to shield you from problems that may come up early.