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Remember that it’s not just about the mortgage payments. Also consider the costs of your property taxes and homeowners insurance.

Time the End of Your Lease
How long will it take to find the home I love? When will I close? When will I move in? Until you actually sign a contract to buy your first home, these questions will remain unanswered.

Still, you have to do your best to time your closing and moving with the end of your lease.

As you begin your search for a home, revisit your lease agreement. See when the lease expires, learn about penalties for breaking the lease in case it comes to that and find out the options that are available, in case you need a lease extension.

“Moving is one of the most stressful things you are going to do in your life,” Da Silva says. “Be prepared. Talk to your landlord and ask, ‘Would you be willing to give me a two-month extension if I need it?’”

Consider Down Payment Assistance
Many first-time homebuyers overlook down-payment assistance programs that may be available to them through state and local housing authorities.

They often assume that these programs are for low-income buyers only, says Rob Chrane, president of Down Payment Resource. But there are numerous programs available for mid-income buyers.

Some of the programs offer no-interest loans or grants as down-payment assistance and have few strings attached. Be sure to check with your local housing authority and ask for a list of lenders that participate in these programs when you begin shopping for a home.

Inspect the Home Before and Right Before

You’re making a huge investment. Have it inspected by a reputable home inspector while you are under contract.

“You want to know how’s the roof, the plumbing, the electrical — there are a lot of variables involved,” Castellanos says.

And don’t forget to do your final inspection on the day of closing. If you are tempted to get the walk-through inspection out of the way the day before closing, think twice. A lot can happen overnight.

“We had something happen where the buyer did the walk-through one day, then the closing was the next day and the air conditioning had flooded the first floor of the house,” Da Silva says. “Always do a walk-through the day of closing.”

Polyana da Costa is the senior mortgage reporter for

Distributed by MCT Information Services