7 tips for first-time home buyers

Are you a first-time home buyer eager to get into the market? Here are steps to take to help you decide whether you're ready to take the plunge.

1)  Check the selling prices of comparable homes in your area.  Your Real Estate Agent will provide this information for you.

2)  See what you can afford.  Make an appointment at your financial institution to see a Mortgage Specialist or perhaps a Mortgage Broker and get pre-approved.

3)  Find out what your total monthly housing cost would be, including taxes and homeowners insurance.

4)  Find out how much you'll likely pay in closing costs.  Closing costs include origination fees charged by the lender, title and settlement fees, taxes and prepaid items such as homeowners insurance.  

5)  Look at your budget and determine how a house fits into it

6)   Talk to reputable real-estate agents in your area about the real-estate climate. Do they believe prices will continue falling or do they think your area has hit bottom or will rise soon?

7)  Remember to look at the big picture. While buying a house is a great way to build wealth, maintaining your investment can be labor-intensive and expensive. When unexpected costs for new appliances, roof repairs and plumbing problems crop up, there's no landlord to turn to, and these costs can drain your bank account.