Buying your first house is likely to be the greatest financial commitment you will ever make. While buying your first home is an exciting experience, it can also seem overwhelming and can leave you asking lots of questions.  There are many things to consider, from budgeting to choosing the house, and getting financing you want to make sure you have all the information you need to make smart decisions. Here are a few easy steps to get started!  

How Much Can You Afford?
Before you can start actually looking for a home, you need to set some basics, such as how much can you actually afford. There are two major factors that you need to consider, how much you can borrow and how much of a monthly payment you can realistically afford.  Keep in mind you will most likely be pre-qualified for an amount that may be unaffordable to your budget. As a general rule of thumb, your annual mortgage payment, taxes and homeowner's insurance shouldn't exceed 28% of your gross income.  Use this home buying worksheet to help you figure the costs.

In addition, you will also need to determine your closing costs, which can add up to 3% to 5% of your total home's value. This closing cost estimator will help to give you a better understanding of the costs.

Do Your Homework-Start Your Search Online
Almost 80% of all home searches today begin on the Internet. With just a few clicks of the mouse, yours can search through hundreds of online listings, view virtual tours, and sort through dozens of photographs and aerial shots of neighborhoods and homes.   With detailed knowledge about neighborhoods, school districts or any other factors that are important to you, you can narrow your search to find your perfect home even before you step foot outside!

How Long Will The Home Meet Your Needs?
When you do find some homes that you are seriously considering, ask yourselves these questions. What features do you require in a home to satisfy your lifestyle now? Five years from now? Depending on how long you plan to stay in your home, you'll need to ensure that the home has what you'll need. For example, if you are a young couple with no children just starting out and you found a two-bedroom home that you love, it may be perfect now. However, if you start a family, you will quickly outgrow the space. Best advice is to consider a home with room to grow. Could the basement be turned into a den and extra bedrooms? Could the attic be turned into a master suite? Having an idea of what you'll need will help you find a home that will satisfy you for years to come.

What To Look For In First Time Home Loans
Because there are several different mortgage programs available for as a first time home buyer, it can be confusing and difficult to decide what is best for your when faced with many different loan types. Use this list  to help you narrow down the choices to what is best.

In addition, here are a couple of tips and guidelines:
1. Flexibility - Make sure you get a program that offers a monthly payment you can really afford. Be honest with your mortgage broker if your payment seems out of reach. You may be able to obtain a three or five year ARM mortgage with a lower interest rate and lower payments or an interest only loan to get you into your home without giant mortgage payments.
2. Down payment assistance. If you are unable to pay a down payment there are programs available to help you.  Down Payment Assistance Programs  are loan programs designed to assist first-time home buyers with the required down payment and closing costs.
3. Long Term Goal - Are you planning on staying in this home forever, for three years, for five years? Communicate your goals to your lender because in situations like these they may have several mortgage options from which you can choose

Purchasing your first home does take research and work, but buying a home is the American dream and you can fulfill your dreams. While it can be exciting to look at different types of homes, don't be tempted into excess when first time home buying. Don’t purchase a home that is really more than you can afford and you need to be strong and stay within your budget. For more information on all the aspects involved in purchasing a home from start to finish, click here.