Buying your first home is a big decision, so we’ve gathered our top tips for first time home buyers.

Start Saving Early: Buying a home is likely the largest financial decision you’ll make in life, and it is important to start saving early because it isn’t cheap. How much you have saved for the down payment, closing costs, and moving expenses will determine how much home you can afford.

Have an Emergency Fund: In addition to saving for the housing costs, you should have 6 months of income saved in an emergency fund. That way should anything happen to your current job or income, you have 6 months of expenses saved until you find a new job.

Check Your Credit: Your credit score will determine what mortgage options you qualify for. There are several credit factors like payment history, credit card utilization, and age of credit history. If you have poor credit, you will need more time to build it in order to secure the best rate.

Explore Mortgage Options & Compare: Borrowing rates are great for home buyers right now, and there are even more incentives for first time homebuyers. However, you should spend some time shopping around for the best rate and discovering what type of loan will work best for your current financial situation.

Find an Agent You Trust: Having a good and trustworthy real estate agent can make the home buying process a breeze. You are making a big financial decision, and you want to have the best team around you. Do your research when looking at agents and find the one the best fits you and your family.

Stick to Your Budget: Pick a number you are willing to spend on a home and stick to it. Don’t let anyone pressure you to spend more than you are comfortable with. A good rule of thumb is that you should spend 28% of less of your monthly gross income on your mortgage payment.

Think Long-Term: When buying your first home, think 5-10 years in the future. Is this an investment property? If so, what will the housing market look like in 10 years? How long do you and your family plan on staying in the current state? There are several questions you should ask prior to buying when making a long-term decision.