Buying a home for the first time is both thrilling and intimidating. That’s why it’s important to educate yourself as you prepare for homeownership.

Before you find a realtor and before you go to open houses, there are steps you should take that’ll prepare you for a smooth, realistic first-time home buying process. Here are the 3 easy steps in more detail that’ll lead to a successful home-buying journey.

1. Get to know your numbers

The glamorous side of homeownership is how you’ll decorate your home inside and out. Yet the best-made plans are all about how well you’ve prepared to pay to decorate the home and provide landscaping.

Knowing how much home you can afford and if it’s new construction vs. an established neighborhood all begins with knowing your numbers. You can tell how prepared you are for homeownership by answering these 5 questions and preparing a folder with the necessary documentation:

  1. What is your credit score? (An annual free credit report is available)
  2. How much money do you bring home monthly?
  3. How much debt are you paying down monthly? (A mortgage rate calculator will help you figure your monthly payments)
  4. How much have you saved as a guestimate on a down payment?
  5. Have you estimated monthly expenses, maintenance, property taxes, insurance and impromptu repairs?

The reality of homeownership is all about how well you can pay for and maintain your dwelling without going broke or into default and foreclosure. Don’t keep up with the Joneses. Keep up with yourself by knowing your finances and saving for upkeep of your property.

2. Educate yourself on the demands of homeownership

There are plenty of first-time home buyer programs throughout the United States. They help prepare you in every stage of the home buying process. The two most popular ones are:

You can also find state-specific resources. In Virginia, the Virginia Department of Housing offers free first-time buyers workshops in-person and online. In fact, they’re required if you are applying for a Virginia housing loan.

3. Understand your financing options: loans & grants

There are several great options for financing a home, including conventional bank loans, federal homebuying programs and preferences for US Veterans:

Start your homeownership journey off right

These resources should make you feel more confident navigating the home-buying process. It’s essential to understand your finances and the costs and responsibilities associated with owning a home. It’s also important to understand all of your home financing & assistance options.

A great next step, if you’re not quite ready to apply for a home loan, is to see how much home you can afford. Click the button to check now:

Calculate how much home you can afford