Home Buying: How to Determine your Search Criteria

Eric Stewart September 7, 2018

Young couple ready to buy new house interacting with estate-agent.jpeg

One of the most frustrating aspects of searching for a new home is the time wasted looking at properties that ultimately don’t interest you. 

Deciding what you want before beginning your search will make the home buying process more successful. Below is a sample of search criteria we include in our Buyer Savvy Guide to help our buyer clients hone in on what’s really important to them. It’s important to not be too strict in your search criteria as that could prevent you from discovering a property that you would like to buy. On the other hand, if you are too broad with your criteria, you will end up visiting home after home that is not right for you. The key is having a good balance in your search criteria.

Baseline search criteria

Baseline search criteria include your basic, but often most important factors when deciding on a new home. These include:

  • Budget or price range
  • House style
  • Number of beds and baths
  • Lot size

Related Articles

Other criteria for you to rank in importance

After deciding on your baseline search criteria, you can start to rank the importance of other key features of your future home and it’s location. Below is sample of features included in the Home Elements worksheet in the Savvy Buyer Guide:


  • Access to public transportation
  • Proximity to commuter routes
  • Proximity to parks and play areas
  • Quality of schools


  • Fenced Yard
  • Patio or Deck
  • Pool
  • Garage
  • Outside storage


  • Eat-in kitchen
  • Island or bar
  • Newly remodeled


  • Private bath in master suite
  • Bedroom on main level

Other Features

  • Hardwood floors
  • Gas heating
  • Finished basement
  • Den

We have our clients rank these features on a scale of 1-4. A “1” rating is a must have and generally a non-negotiable factor in your housing search.  A “2” to “3” rating is a like to have, which means you are a little more flexible on these features. A “4” rating is a nice to have, which is just that, nice to have, but not essential.

With a prioritized list of elements in hand, your real estate agent can search for homes that meet your requirements and you can start to visit different neighborhoods to get a better understanding of what is available for your budget. After going to a few homes, you may want or need to revisit your search criteria and make some adjustments.

Your real estate agent should also offer to set you up on automated email alerts. You will automatically receive listings that meet your most important search criteria so you can review these homes, including pictures and property features, online. Nowadays, most buyers preview listings before deciding whether to have their agent set up a showing.

Buying a new home can be both an exciting and stressful experience. However, by having a good idea of what you really want, you save time and energy and your housing search will be that much more productive. For any questions or help with your home search, please contact the Eric Stewart Group and we would be happy to assist you!

Know Your True Value

Eliminate the stress of uncertainty with a home value estimate measured by real-time data. Our market analytics can calculate your home’s value and trajectory to get you market-ready in no time.

Get an Estimate

or Toll Free: 800-900-9104

Latest listing

Find the perfect home that fits your needs with seasoned agents powered by data and technology.

Visit our listing website

10599 Warland Rd, tMarshall, VA 20115
4 Monroe St. 1306, Rockville, MD 20850
1419 Janneys Lane, Alexandria, VA 22302