Buying your first home can feel intimidating! It's a major milestone and investment for you and your life. Although there is a lot to think about when buying your first home, as long as you do your homework it will help streamline the process. First things first: organizing your finances! You will need to check your credit score to make sure you will be approved when you apply for a loan on your new home. The next thing to figure out is how much house you can actually afford. There is a lot that factors into this - the down payment, monthly mortgage, taxes, maintenance, heating and cooling, etc. You will also want to make sure you budget enough for closing costs as well. Get pre-approved for a mortgage. A pre-approval letter will offer you better leverage when house hunting.
The next big step is finding the right buyer's agent! You want to find someone who knows the area and price point you are looking at well. The appropriate agent will help you find the right home at the right cost. Research the locality you are interested in moving to and check out local Realtors in the area to find one that best suits your needs. Having an agent that knows the area well will make house hunting much easier. Remember, buyer's representation is free!
When looking for home you are looking for a place where you will be potentially investing years of your life. If your budget stacks up and you are ready to purchase, make sure the home you are looking at will be suitable for you in the years to come. What is the neighborhood like? Is it close to schools and amenities? What is the projected growth for the area? How far is the commute to work? Things that may seem easy to manage in the immediate term may grow tiresome over the years to come (such as a daily 30+ minute commute). Long term thinking will help you stay happily housed for many years to come!