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First-time home ownership can be an exciting time. It can also be a stressful time in terms of negotiating your first home mortgage and knowing that you have enough saved up for a down payment. 

With the average home cost well into six digits at $300,000 and the average home spending less than two months on the market before selling, you know that time is of the essence. Here’s what to get working on today: 

Pay Off Your Debt 

Paying off your debt right now is extremely important because first-time home ownership can wind up being more costly than renting an apartment in terms of month-to-month expenses. You might be wondering how that could possibly be the case with a 30-year mortgage and low monthly payments. 

The truth is that home ownership comes with hidden costs like maintenance and upkeep expenses, so it’s best to have your debts settled and some extra money set aside beforehand. 

Determine What You Can Afford 

Buying a home for the first time can be an enchanting experience. Taking a step back and soberly analyzing the situation can be invaluable, though, before you get in too deep. Determine how much you’ll need upfront and how much you’ll need every month for the next few years. After that, narrow down the search for a new home. 

Homeowner’s associations can have their own fees, and you can expect to pay property taxes and homeowner’s insurance. If that’s not something that you’ve thought about as you’ve been budgeting for an apartment, then looking into that. 

Get Loan Pre-approval 

As a basic rule of thumb, you should have 20 percent of the money your new home will require set aside an 80 percent financed by a mortgage. Receive pre-qualification for a loan before starting your home search. 

Consider Your Closing Costs 

Closing costs can amount to around four percent of your total costs when you factor in the following factors: the appraisal costs, a credit report, an attorney, homeowner’s insurance, and selling your old house. 

A down payment on your new home could also swallow a lot of your savings, so budget accordingly when you’re setting aside a little extra money heading into your first home.