1. Are you qualified to buy
2. How much can you afford based on your down payment, your income
3. What are the market values in your area compared to what you can afford
4. What is your lifestyle --- this will also dictate what type of home you should get (if you don't want to work in the yard, or prefer having amenities like swimming pool, clubhouse, etc. then you may prefer a condo)
5. Do you have a timeline --- sometimes, waiting has its own rewards, such as waiting for short sale approval which ends up in getting a property for less than market value
6. Which is more important to you: be cash rich but real estate poor, or be real estate rich but cash poor?
I am a realtor in the Freeport area, and it is a teriffic time to buy right now in Freeport--best buy is probably Windswept Estates--great deals there right now. Hammock Bay is wonderful place, but higher HOA fees. What sort of home are you looking for? Would be happy to help you if you can give me more information about what you seek. Rentals are hard to find (especially if they are good ones). But with interest rates under 4% and prices are just beginning to rise in Walton County, it is a great time to go for it and many people are. You can access the mls listings all through my website if that would be helpful for you.
Myke Triebold, GRI, LMC, SFR