There are obvious decisions that need to be made before embarking on a home purchase. How much can you afford to pay? How much do you feel comfortable paying? Which neighborhoods offer the kinds of homes and amenities -- like good schools, shops and transportation nearby -- that you want? How secure is your employment? Do you have enough cash reserves for emergencies?
In addition to these practical considerations, you should find out as much as possible about the local area. Does it have a strong and diversified economic base? Is employment improving or are employers laying workers off? Are businesses moving into or out of the area?
Are new facilities planned that will impact the community, like a freeway that might change the character of a neighborhood