I was thinking about working with buyers today. It’s always so much fun to start out with them showing them properties exactly like what they said they wanted. And then when they don’t like what they see I try other tactics and invariably that four bedroom two-story on the south side of town becomes a three bedroom ranch on the west side.

There are some things though that I believe buyers shouldn’t compromise on.

1. The commute to their job should be paramount in their decision. If you absolutely don’t want to drive over 15 minutes then don’t look at houses that are further away even if they are really cute. Don’t just rely on the web site to give you time of commute – drive it yourself at the same times as you will be driving two and from work.

2. Neighborhood – visit the neighborhood of the house you like at several different times. Early morning, how much traffic is there? Midday – are their kids playing outside? Do they look like the same age as yours? Evening – are there lots of cars parked in driveways and in front of homes? Weekends – Do you hear loud music? Are the yards well kept?

3. Schools – before you draw a line in the sand on schools, visit some. Talk to the principal and teachers. Don’t just make a decision based on standardized test scores.

4. Most important of all is the purchase price you are approved for. Then really scrutinize your budget. Just because the lender says you can afford it, what does that line item in your budget represent? If you move in and can’t afford to live comfortably, don’t do it. No house is worth you having to pinch pennies everywhere else.