Buying a home is a big step. You are getting ready to make a major investment. At a time when the economy is not at its most stable, you also want to think about resale value. While you may plan on staying put for years to come, life could have other plans. Be sure to do your homework before you actually move forward with getting a mortgage.
When you're about to buy a home, you need to make sure you actually choose a house that is a fit for you. Make sure you have enough space to fit the demands of your family or the possibility of a growing family. Pay attention to the neighborhood and access to work. If you have children, the schools should be a top priority as well. If you are willing to take on the challenge of a home that needs renovations, be aware of what is involved in repairs before you sign on the dotted line. Buying a home that needs remodeling or finishing can save you money at the initial purchase. However, you'll have major expenses down the line. You may need to take years to actually finish the job.
As you scope out potential properties, look at the big picture. You need to think about your mortgage, taxes, and utilities. If you are going to have a longer commute to work, your transportation costs will need to be factored into the equation as well. Don't commit yourself to a mortgage payment that you can't afford. Consider the cost of mortgage protection insurance. While this will be an additional expense, it is a safety net that could save you when you are dealing with financial hardship.