Everyone knows that buying a home is a big deal but buying your first home, that’s a really big deal. You may be surprised by all of the hoops you will have to jump through. However, if you do your homework, you can save yourself a lot of time and trouble. Here are a few steps you can take to get you off on the right foot.

Time for a financial check-up.

Before you even begin, take a good, hard look at your savings and investments.  Be sure that you don’t consider a purchase until you have a sizable emergency savings account.

Next, focus on your current monthly expenses. Make sure to account for each dollar you currently spend. Make a list of all of your bills for utilities, food, car, gas, entertainment and dry cleaning, for example, and then see what you have left to work with.

Check around for first-timer perks.

You’ll be happy to know there are some great programs available designed to help first-time buyers just like you. Do your research, ask lots of questions and keep your eyes open to see if you may qualify for down payment assistance.

What’s your score?

Find a trustworthy lender or broker. He will assess your credit score and the amount you can qualify for on a loan. Keep in mind that fees can be surprisingly varied. When you’re sure you have worked out the best deal possible, get yourself a mortgage pre-approval. That way, there will be no surprises, and you’ll know exactly how much house you can buy.

Find a really good real estate agent.

Finding a talented agent – like those who affiliate with Coldwell Banker – is one of the single most important steps you can take to help ensure a stress-free home purchase. Find one who lives in your prospective area or knows it well, to help navigate potential properties. A sharp agent will manage to take a lot of work off your plate. They should be able to answer just about all of your questions, and will contact listing agents to set up showings and help you negotiate the purchase.

All in all, be sure you surround yourself with accomplished professionals whom you can trust. Buying your first home is an experience that you’ll most likely never forget. Be sure to make it a good one!