Do research the neighborhood.
Look at the house, but also look at the neighborhood. Location is the most important thing, so it's critical to look at more than bricks and mortar.
How can you choose the right community? Become a neighborhood detective. Figure out what you're looking for, do research and find a neighborhood that fits your description.
Do look at several houses before you buy.
Buying the first house you look at it is kind of like marrying the first person you go on a date with -- not necessarily a good idea. If you buy a home without comparing it to other listings in the area, you're likely to overpay or miss out on a great nearby home. Walk through at least three homes before you choose. If you still love the first one you saw, make an offer!
Do invest in a professional inspection.
Sellers don't always disclose the whole truth to potential buyers, or they might have done a band-aid job to cover up issues until the deal closes. The average home buyer takes 15 minutes or less to choose a home, but many potential problems, like plumbing and wiring trouble, might not be visible to the naked eye.
Don't buy a house for its decor.
A home might have gorgeous furnishings at the showing, but it needs to accommodate your furnishings and lifestyle after the sellers pack up their sofa. Look past a home's decor and make sure the space will accommodate your lifestyle and furnishings.
Are the spaces functional and efficient for your daily routine? You might love how a seller has transformed an extra bedroom into a crafting space, but will it be big enough for your twins' bunk beds? Focus on the floor plan and the square footage to decide if a home is right for you.
Don't buy the most expensive house on the block.
Keep up with the Joneses, but don't outdo them. You won't get the same return on investment with the biggest house on the block, and you might have trouble selling later on.
Before you purchase a home, research the neighborhood. Is the house you're considering overbuilt for the area? Are comparable homes selling in the area? You'll be glad you gathered the information if you ever decide to sell.