It's always nerve racking - and exciting - to think about buying your first home. Before you jump into the process, you'll want to take a number of factors into consideration. Here are some hints and ideas that should help you on your way to home ownership.
1. Location - Take a look at the location where you'd ideally like to live. Is this a neighborhood that you believe will stay stable over the long term, or is it one that is changing and might not change in ways that you'll desire?
2. Schools - Even if you don't have children now, if you intend to in the future, you should research the schools in the area. Are the schools adequate for your needs? Will you be comfortable sending your children to these schools?
3. Mortgage - Consider how much money you can afford to spend on your mortgage. Many people suggest that you shouldn't spend more than 1/6th of your monthly earnings on the mortgage. Carefully look at your present earnings and calculate how much money your monthly payments will be after your down payment. Can you afford this amount? Don't project how much you hope to be earning in a few years - but what you earn this minute.
4. Home Size - Even you can afford to look for a home that is slightly larger than what you need now, you may be happy in the long term. This is particularly true if you are a young couple, or if you hope to grow a family. Buy something larger than what you need so that you can grow into it in the future.