The first step to buying a home is to ask yourself why you want to buy. Do you want to stop paying rent? start building equity? have a place of your own? raise a family? entertain business associates? move to a new neighbourhood? Next, list what kind of home you'd like and where you would like to be. Be specific. Separate the "must haves" from the "want to haves."
Think of yourself as zeroing in on a target, going from the general to the specific. Consider area (city, suburban neighborhood, country); community (north, south, east, or west side); neighborhood (older and settled or sparkling new; a particular school zone; recreational facilities; and other community services such as transportation, day care, library, stores, entertainment). Ask yourself how many minutes you are willing to commute to work.
Think about home styles. How much space do you need? Does your situation require a one-level home, or are stairs acceptable? Consider size and kind of property. Do you want a newer home, or maybe an older one to fix up? Someday you or your heirs will want to sell. Consider how long you expect to live in this particular home.