Whether you’re out on the open house circuit or just browsing homes online, there are dozens of factors to consider as you hunt for the right place.

You’ll want to start by making a list of the things that you need and want in a home. Everyone’s list will be different: Young families may be looking for a space they can grow into, while empty nesters might prefer smaller homes with less upkeep. And with a potential recession looming, more people may find themselves focusing on a starter home that won’t overstretch their budget.

The reality is that you probably won’t get every single thing on your list, especially if you’re trying to tighten the purse strings. You’ll need to make some trade-offs to find a house that both meets your needs and fits your budget.

“It ends up being more of a process of elimination than selection. Once you start going into houses, you’ll see what your priorities are,” says Andi DeFelice, an associate broker with Exclusive Buyer’s Realty in Savannah, Georgia, and a past president of the National Association of Exclusive Buyer Agents.

Still, knowing what to look for is key to making the most of your search. Here’s are some things to keep in mind when shopping for a home:

What all house-hunters should look for

While certain home features will be mandatory, other features might be nice-to-haves, but not necessarily must-haves. Here’s what you should consider for your wish list, at minimum:

  • House and yard size
  • Number of bedrooms and bathrooms (and preferred sizes)
  • Kitchen features (such as an island or built-in eating area)
  • Neighborhood safety
  • Quality of local schools
  • Proximity to shopping, grocery stores, restaurants, bars and cultural attractions
  • Walkability
  • Access to public transit

You’ll also want to narrow your list down to features that are realistically found in the homes within your budget, and ideally things that are useful, add value or otherwise enhance your everyday life. Other factors might be important based on your lifestyle, as well, such as access to a dog park. If it’s a priority for you, include it on your wish list.

Consider, too, your current and future preferences. For instance, if you have children, the quality of the local public schools might rank higher on your list. If you’re a large household with only a certain number of vehicles, access to public transit could be a make-or-break preference.

Needs vs. wants

Think about what you really need versus just want. While you might prefer a house with a recently remodeled kitchen and bathrooms, that might not be a true need. A great room for entertaining or a waterfall shower might be nice-to-haves, but are they really must-haves? The most common home-buying mistakes include believing an amenity is non-negotiable, and looking for features that might not necessarily fit with your lifestyle.

Three red flags that might be deal-breakers

While you’re looking for the perks that come with a home, keep an eye out for the drawbacks, too. These three, in particular, can spell trouble.

It costs more than you can afford

This is the top factor to consider when buying a house. There’s no reason to waste time looking at properties you can’t realistically afford. Use Bankrate’s new-home calculator to get a sense of how much house you can reasonably buy and estimate the mortgage amount that suits your budget. Be sure to factor in additional costs such as taxes, insurance and maintenance, plus how much you’re able to put into a down payment.

It’s in a poor location

There’s a reason industry pros joke that the three most important things in real estate are “location, location and location.” No amount of remodeling can change where your house is. A too-long commute or underperforming schools for your children could leave you with buyer’s remorse, even if the house has everything else you’re looking for.

When thinking about where you want to live, pay attention to both the neighborhood and your potential neighbors. “I suggest doing a drive-by at a few random times of the day to see what the neighborhood looks like then,” DeFelice says. “Is there something going on in that area that wouldn’t make you happy [when you] walk out your door every day?”

There are issues with the home inspection

A home inspection will give you an idea of any problems with the structure or systems of the house. If the inspection turns up potentially expensive issues, you can ask the seller to fix them or try to negotiate a lower price to account for the problems. If the sellers aren’t interested in either option, you might have the option to walk away from the deal — as long as you have a home inspection contingency in your contract.

Be realistic

If only we could turn every single wish-list item and our loftiest visions for a home into reality! But alas, any house-hunt is largely based on cost parameters and what’s available on the market at the time. It’s important to be realistic and remember that no house is perfect (unless, of course, you build a dream home from scratch). The homes that are available to you might not tick every single one of your boxes, and that’s OK. Here’s a pro tip: You can repaint, replace fixtures and add your own flair, but you can’t change a home’s location. Choose wisely.