Despite a turbulent economy with an uncertain future, many people continue to eye the next stage in life: homeownership.

Does this sound like you?

You might be waiting for interest rates to go down or the number of homes for sale to go up, but there are still plans and preparations you can ponder in the meantime. If you’re looking to buy your first home, here are some steps to get the ball rolling:

Set a budget

Before looking at homes, you’ll want to understand your current financial picture. To help you determine a budget for your new home, it’s also important to ask yourself important questions like, “What is the most I can afford?” and “What is my ideal price range?” Our online mortgage calculator can help you figure out the maximum monthly payment you can afford based on the price of the home after a down payment.

Find a mortgage specialist 

You can also meet with a mortgage specialist who will review your financial situation and assist you through the pre-approval process to help you determine your budget. A knowledgeable mortgage specialist can help you understand down payment assistance programs and will review the loan options available.

Make a list of necessities

Consider the features you must have in your future home—location, square footage, upgrades, amenities, etc.—to help guide you and your realtor. This will help you better determine what you want, what’s out there, and how to get you what you need.

Find a good agent

Use a realtor who’s experienced and knows your area and market. Referrals from family and friends who live in the area you’re looking are a great place to start.

Do some comparison shopping

Check out comparable homes in your area of interest to get an idea of pricing and to help you determine a starting offer. By getting a good idea of your current financial picture, doing some research, and partnering with knowledgeable mortgage professionals to help you through the buying process, you’ll minimize the stress involved and be ready to make a move when you find your dream home.