Everyone has goals in life that they hope to achieve by a certain, and for many, homeownership is a big one. Buying your first home is often only something you can afford to do after a lot of hard work and saving.
Paying off major debts like student loans and credit cards is a vital part of getting ready to own a home. Banks want to see good credit before they approve a mortgage - but they also need to see that you have money in the bank for a down payment and closing costs. Your down payment can be a gift from your parents but it can't be borrowed. You have to remember that homeownership is a major financial investment, and you don't want to be house poor - this means freeing up as much of your income as possible beforehand, is important.
Beginning your search
Once you're financially ready to begin shopping for a home, you'll want to talk to a mortgage expert to find out what you can reasonably afford. They will give you a price range with a high and low-end. Make sure you work out the numbers to determine approximately what homeownership will cost you at each end of the range. For long term affordability it's probably best not to buy at the top of your budget for your first home.
So you've decided?
Once you settle on a price range and find a home you like, you will begin the negotiation process, which your realtor will help you through. Once a price is decided on, your realtor will draw up a purchase agreement and then you will visit your bank, mortgage specialist or mortgage broker to sign the mortgage agreement and confirm the final details. You will also need a lawyer to help finalize the documents.