Buying a home can be a complicated and sometimes overwhelming experience for home buyers, especially first time home buyers! Whether you are buying a homefor the first time or are an experienced home buyer, a Realcomp REALTOR® has information you can use no matter what your experience level. Follow these simple 10 steps and see just how easy home ownership can really be.

Getting prepared for home ownership can seem like a daunting task, but in all actuality it is not. Below you will find a list of 10 ways to prepare for home ownership.

1. Decide what you can afford
Generally, you can afford a home equal in value to between two and three times your gross income.

2. Develop your home wish list
After establishing your home wish list, prioritize the features on your list.

3. Select where you want to live
Compile a list of three or four neighborhoods you would like to live in, taking into account items such as schools, recreational facilities, area expansion plans, and safety.

4. Start saving
Do you have enough money saved to qualify for a mortgage and cover your down payment? If at all possible, you should have 20% of the purchase price saved as a down payment. Don’t forget to factor in closing costs in addition to the down payment. Closing costs — including taxes, attorney’s fee, and transfer fees — average between 2 and 7 percent of the home price.

5. Get your credit in order
Obtain a copy of your credit report to make sure it is accurate and to correct any errors immediately. A credit report provides a history of your credit, bad debts, and any late payments.

6. Determine your mortgage qualifications
How large of a mortgage do you qualify for? Also, investigate different loan options, such as 30 year fixed mortgages or 15 year fixed mortgages or Adjustable Rate Mortgages, and decide what the best option for you is.

7. Get pre approved
Organize all the documentation a lender will need to pre-approve you for a loan. You might need W-2 forms, copies of at least one pay stub, account numbers, and copies of two to four months of bank or credit union statements.

8. Weigh other sources of help with a down payment
Do you qualify for any special mortgage or down payment assistance programs? Check with your state and local government on down payment assistance programs for first time home buyers. If you have an IRA account, you can use the money you have saved to buy your first home without paying a penalty for early withdrawal.

9. Calculate the costs of home ownership
This should include property taxes, insurance, maintenance and utilities, and association fees, if applicable.

10. Contact a REALTOR®
Find an experienced REALTOR® who can help guide you through the entire buying process. Your REALTOR® will be able to negotiate the best deal possible for you as well as find properties within your criteria that may be unavailable to the general public! A REALTOR® can also give you comparable sale data so you can make a good decision about an offering price.