*This is a sponsored guest post by The Berger Bungalow. #sponsored

Hey everyone! Thank you so much for having me as a guest author on Jersey Fashionista – I am so excited to share some tips with you all today. My name is Alex Berger and I am a freelance writer and lifestyle blogger over at The Berger Bungalow. The Berger Bungalow is focused on travel, food, home, and life adventures with my husband, Ian.

Our First Home

Ian and I recently purchased our first home last year and it was scary, but an amazing process. I had no idea where to start when it came to buying a home – I knew what I wanted when it came to size, look, etc. but I was not skilled in the rest of the process, like making sure the siding was in good shape or knowing the facts about the neighborhood. I know that a lot of people are in the same boat as I am, so I wanted to write a post on 5 things to consider when purchasing a home. I really hope this helps some of you out when you search for a home one day.

How much can you really afford?

Before you go on a house hunting adventure, you need to figure out your budget. There are many calculators online where you can enter how much you make, your monthly expenses, and more in order to show you how much you can afford. While this is a great starting place, before you start searching for a home, you need to do a few more things on top of playing with an online calculator. The first thing you need to do is go to a mortgage lender to get pre-approved for a loan. The process to get pre-approved is pretty simple – your job is to gather a ton of paperwork and the lender gets to work. Once the lender gives you a big number (let’s say they pre-approve you for $250,000), they should break it down for you in terms of a monthly payment. Let me be clear about one thing, though. Just because you are approved for 250k does not mean that you should purchase a house for 250k. When Ian and I purchased our home a little over a year ago, we were approved for right around $300,000, but we ended up buying a home for 227,000. Why? Because you do not want to become ‘house broke.’ Owning a home comes with a lot of responsibility and things add up very quickly. Now that we have lived in our home for over a year, we are so thankful that we did not purchase a home for 300k because if we did and if we had the same house problems that we had this past year, I have no idea how we would have afforded it! My biggest tip for all of you is to make sure you DO NOT purchase a home at the top of your budget!

What are you looking for?

Once you are pre-approved and figure out how much you can afford, you can start house shopping! This is such an exciting process, but also pretty stressful at the same time. Figure out what you want before you start shopping so that you do not waste your time, or your realtors time. Is a four bedroom house a necessity, or can you live in a two-bedroom house? Do you need a fenced backyard, or are you okay with a condo? Whatever you need, make sure to write it down.

Consider the big items

When you are looking at a house, focus on the big items that will cost a lot of money to replace. The roof, the siding, etc. Really take your time in the house and try to literally ‘sniff’ out the big problems. For example, one house we went into looked perfect from the outside. It was in the perfect area, it was big enough for us, and it has a huge backyard for our dogs. When we got inside, it looked fine, but as soon as we went down in the basement, it smelled like mildew. Make sure you take your time to find those problems with the house. Open the dishwasher, step upstairs in the attic (if possible), look at the roof and make sure it is in good shape. You do not want to purchase a house that is falling apart.

Get the fixer upper

It doesn’t matter if you do not like the paint color, the kitchen cabinets, or the unfinished basement because all of those are things that can be changed over time. Instead, what matters more is the bones of the house. When we first moved into our home, we took off the popcorn ceilings, replaced all of the carpets,  painted all of the walls and ceilings, replaced all of the appliances, and we still have so many things on our to-do list like paint our kitchen cabinets, get new countertops, spruce up our patio, and paint the exterior of our home – it all comes in time! If you find a house that you love and you want to renovate, I found local New Jersey business, Henn & Nardini Contracting. Located in Barnegat, NJ, co-owners Kurt Henn and Anthony Nardini specialize in home renovations, home restorations, additions, bathroom & kitchen remodeling, finished custom basements, and custom bars & mantels. The owner-operated business is passionate about craftsmanship and focuses on details when working on a project and that effort definitely paid off for them based on the fantastic reviews that you can find on their website! If you found a house, but are in need of a few renovations, I would definitely contact Henn & Nardini Contracting to get a quote and your 3D design.

Something better is always around the corner

Make sure you do not settle, no matter what. I know how hard house hunting can be. When we were shopping around, we fell in love with the home of our dreams…or so we thought. We put an offer on the house and then it fell through. We were devastated and I thought we would never find anything else that we loved, but a few weeks later, we found the house that we bought and it was so, so, so much better than the first one that we thought was amazing. I am so thankful that we powered through and didn’t give up! If you hit a low point in house hunting, I promise you – something better is always right around the corner! Keep your head up and keep pushing through. You’ve got this!

About the author…

Alex Berger is a freelance writer and lifestyle blogger over at The Berger Bungalow. The Berger Bungalow is focused on travel, food, home, and life adventures with her husband, Ian.