Buying a home, especially for the first time, can be a time of important decisions and financial preparedness. Knowledge and being prepared for the process can help make things run more smoothly and feel less stressful. Here are some tips about what you need to know when you are looking at new houses for sale.

Your Mortgage Budget

The first thing you need to know or figure out is how much you can afford for buying a home. Depending on your household income and your credit and debt situation, you will determine how much of a mortgage you can qualify for. Talk to a professional mortgage broker to apply for a mortgage and get a pre-approval, which will give you a specific dollar amount.

You can also calculate your budget on your own time with a notebook and pencil. Write down your monthly take-home pay and all your monthly expenses, subtracting these from your take-home pay. Be sure to include items, such as groceries, gas, dining out, savings, car insurance, and child care. After all your expenses your expenses other than housing are accounted for, the amount you have left over with is the maximum you can put toward your mortgage principle, interest, property taxes, and home owner's insurance.

Helpful Professional Services

Along with a mortgage broker, a real estate agent will be your best source of help during the search, negotiation, and home buying process. A good real estate agent will advise you on various scenarios and your options regarding different choices you can make and how they may affect your decision. Your real estate agent has a legal duty to put your interests first, and they don't get paid until you buy a home and close on the transaction.

Several Potential Areas or Neighborhoods

As you begin to tour through homes, you should have one or more areas or neighborhoods picked out that you are interested in buying a home within. This decision of your search areas will depend upon the type of homes you want, distance from your work, or the school district of the area. If you want your children to go to a certain school, for example, you will need to search in an area that is within the school's boundaries.

The neighborhoods you choose can also depend upon the age of the homes, and the price of homes. Homes of similar size and style may be much more expensive in one particular neighborhood compared to another neighborhood across the city just because of their location. If you are not sure what neighborhoods are selling homes within your price range, you can take a drive to look for sale signs, or talk to your realtor about these details. Your realtor should be familiar with this information.