The first step in buying a house is to sit down and make a budget. The budget should include how much cash you are willing to invest in the down payment, as well as the maximum amount you are willing to pay each month to own a home. 

Once you decide what your down payment and monthly payment comfort levels are, you’re ready to reach out to a local real estate professional, who can help you navigate the process of finding and purchasing a home. An experienced, local, and well trained real estate agent can educate you about the local market and help you determine your house-hunting goals. Take time to meet with the real estate agent upfront to discuss your wants, needs, and budget. Making sure that you’re on the same page from the start can save a lot of time in the long run. 

Keep your house-hunting plan in mind as you look at houses. Don't be afraid to be an active participant. If you have favorite neighborhoods or house styles, let your agent know. Be honest with yourself and your agent when you view homes. The more honest the feedback—positive and negative—the more efficient the search will be. 

Here are some additional tips for the house-hunting process: 

  • Feel free to ask sellers and your agent questions. 

  • Check with multiple lenders before accepting an interest rate. 

  • Avoid making major purchases on credit or moving cash around. This will improve your chances of qualifying for a loan.

  • When you find a house you like, drive by it at different times of the day to get a true round-the-clock feel for the neighborhood. 

  • Ask the seller if there are any inspections or disclosures you should be aware of. Knowing about serious issues in advance can prevent disappointment and lost time. 

Finally, don’t forget to have fun!