Buying a home is a hefty task, and with so many things to consider (do I need that extra bedroom? How important is a big yard?), it is easy to get a little lost in the process. There is nothing worse than purchasing a home only to find out you need to sink thousands of unexpected dollars into your new place, all because you weren't sure what to look for.

Below are a few tips to make sure you're focusing on the right home features, so you can enjoy your new home AND still be able to afford that new dining room set.

Hire a home inspector. Getting a home inspected is the No. 1 way you can avoid surprises after closing. However, it's still important to know what to look for on your own, as it can save you precious time and energy expenditure. For instance, if you know you can't afford a new foundation, then you can skip over making offers on homes that are clearly in need.

Check the basement. After you ooh and ah over the walk-in closets, head on down to the basement. Check out the plumbing, examine building materials, and check out insulation. Can you see daylight peeking through cracks in the walls? That spells high heating bills, as the home may have some insulation issues.

Scope out the foundation. Big cracks or corrosion can spell big trouble down the line. Foundation is an expensive repair, so make sure the home is sound.

Look for water damage. Check for discoloration and rings around pipes, windows and doors, as well as kitchen and bathroom fixtures.

Eye the roof. You probably shouldn't climb up to the roof while visiting a potential home, but you can scope it from the outside. Can you see any visible missing tiles or discoloration? And feel free to ask the agent when the roof was last replaced.”

As a Member of the Top 5 in Real Estate Network®, I have a wealth of real estate and homeownership information that may be of help to you. Feel free to contact me any time to learn more about this important information, and be sure to forward this article on to any friends or family that may be interested as well.