For many people, owning a home remains a key element of the classic American dream. Owning a home, however, entails a lot more than having the freedom to decorate a yard or a house any way a person wants. Home ownership brings with it some significant responsibilities. 

Before embarking on the process of searching for a home, a first-time buyer may benefit from learning a bit about what to expect or plan for and how to evaluate a home and a neighborhood prior to making an offer on a property. 

The home selection process

As explained by NerdWallet, one quick visit to a house may fail to provide a home buyer with sufficient information on the area. Even driving by a home and through a neighborhood at different times of day and on different days of the week offers the chance to see the happenings on a more regular basis. For example, a person may learn that one home frequently hosts large and loud parties on the weekend. 

Data on schools, safety, amenities, crime and more may be available and provide a robust view of the living experience in a neighborhood as well as the home itself. 

The full financial picture

Many first-time home buyers may eagerly track home listing and sale prices and use that to determine their general budget and home price point. However, as Bankrate notes, the true cost of owning a home extends well beyond the sale price alone. 

Even in the sale process, a buyer should prepare to pay costs toward the closing of the deal and the cost of a home inspection. Property taxes and insurance also add to the ongoing costs.