Purchasing a first home is one of the privileges that come with entry into the "real world.” Homeownership also happens to be one of the best ways to build wealth and security for you and your family. Even if you’re not ready for this step right now, you can prepare for it. 

Since the majority of homeowners purchase a property with a 30-year mortgage, there is no such thing as starting to save too soon. As soon as you establish yourself in a career, why not start putting 10% or more of each paycheck into a housing fund? Your future self will most certainly thank you. 

Depending on where you live, a down payment can range between 0% and 20% of the purchase price. Find out if down payment assistance programs are available in neighborhoods where you are interested in buying a home. These programs allow the seller to cover a portion of the down payment, commonly up to 3% of the sales price.

It is never too early to learn what you need to do before you take the plunge into homeownership. Meet with a local real estate agent and a local loan officer to start the preparation process. They can help you establish goals and create plans for reaching them, even if your purchase will be a year or two down the road.

Once you are ready, the process of finding and purchasing a home can take anywhere from one month to a year, depending on local market conditions and availability.