These six steps may make your buying process more simple and streamlined.

When you are ready to purchase a home, whether it’s your first or fourth, a home buying guide can help.

  1. Home-buying-guide-for-todays-market-6-first-steps-3Determine what you can afford. Your mortgage payment should not exceed 28 percent of your gross income. An online mortgage calculator can provide an estimated mortgage payment.
  2. Get pre-approved for a home loan. You'll know exactly how much a lender will give you to buy a home and therefore which homes are in your price range once you are pre-approved. Plus, you will know your estimated mortgage interest rate. You may want to investigate Federal Housing Administration (FHA) home loan programs that have lower down payment requirements and competitive rates.
  3. Make a list of your home wants and needs. Location, amenities, size and school districts can dictate which homes are a good fit for your family. This worksheet from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development is a great tool in your home buying guide.
  4. Look at homes. Going to open houses and looking at virtual tours online can help you determine the features you like and dislike to narrow your search. Even if the first home you visit feels perfect, go to a few more before you make an offer.
  5. Have the home you want inspected. Talk to your agent about optional inspections that can save you money in the long run, such as a water and sewer line scope. If you are concerned that the house will sell before your inspection, you may make an offer contingent on the inspection report.
  6. Home-buying-guide-for-todays-market-6-first-steps-2Make an offer. Your agent will help you write an offer that the buyer will accept. You may also want to write a personal letter about you and your family to accompany the offer if the market is competitive. When your offer is accepted, you can close the deal and make plans to move to your new home.

Find a real estate agent to assist you. A buyer's agent will help you find fitting homes, arrange an inspection, write an offer, negotiate price and close the deal. He or she can also provide valuable insight that you won't typically find in a home buyers guide.

For help finding a local real estate agent or home listings in your area, go to RealtyNow.