You’ve decided you’re ready to buy your own home­ – now what? Start with these initial steps:

1. Get your financial ducks in a row.
Calculate how much money you have in savings and assets, your total annual income and your expenses. Know how much of it you can allocate toward a downpayment and other expenses. Check your credit report and fix any errors. This will help you determine what type of loan you qualify for, and the price range of homes you want to look at.

2. Determine how much house you can afford.
A common rule is that your monthly mortgage payment should not exceed 28 percent of your pre-tax income. You can plug your information into an online mortgage calculator to get a starting idea of exactly how much you’ll pay each month with different interest rates and terms.

3. Find a real estate agent.
Interview several agents to find one that specializes in the communities you're interested in and has experience representing buyers with the type of home you’re looking for. Search for a local agent now.

4. Shop!
It’s important that you keep an open mind and look at a wide range of properties. Go to open houses. Cruise the Internet. Peruse different neighborhoods. Your agent will also help by finding properties that match as many of your “wants” and “needs” as possible. When you fall in love with a house and are ready to make it official, your agent can help you navigate the process from putting in an offer to the closing table.

Whether you’re buying, selling or looking to make your house a home, you can find more advice on the RE/MAX blog.