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Becoming a homeowner is part of the American Dream. However, buying a house takes a lot of consideration and planning, which can feel overwhelming for many first-time buyers.

According to American Consumer Credit Counseling (ACCC), knowing what needs to be done in advance will make the home-buying process less stressful in the long run. If you have saved for a down payment and are looking to buy your first home, consider the following tips from ACCC:

Set a budget. Calculate all expenses to figure out an affordable monthly payment plan. Don’t forget to include the down payment, property taxes (which can vary widely from community to community), additional insurance that may be required (such as flood insurance), and closing costs in this budget.

Check credit. A consumer’s credit score is one of the most important factors when qualifying for a loan to buy a house. Be sure to take steps to improve your score and check your credit report for any errors so they can be fixed before applying for a loan. If there’s a bad history in your credit report, be prepared to explain it to the lender.

Compare mortgage options. Do your research. Different mortgages offer pros and cons, such as lower interest rates or a smaller down payment. Look for the mortgages with the lowest interest rates and the best money-saving options.

Weigh the pros and cons of new versus older homes. Although new homes may have a larger ticket price up front, many come with appliance and structure warranties that could save you money in the future should anything become faulty.

Consider all expenses. The cost of purchasing a home is usually the largest, but not nearly the only expense consumers will face. Make sure to budget for additional costs such as moving expenses and maintenance. Also, ask all necessary questions about the home’s average utility costs to prevent any surprises down the road. Pay attention during the home inspection so that you know if there are any major–and potentially costly–issues that need to be addressed. If you don’t have one already, be sure to set up an emergency fund in case of any unexpected occurrences, such as a broken washing machine.

Of course, there are many other factors to consider before buying a home, such as setting priorities regarding location, space and amenities. A real estate agent can help guide you through the entire home-buying process.

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