Buying a home is a huge decision.  You are investing in your future and getting into and out of a house can be a long, frustrating process.

But nothing is more frustrating than finally getting that house and not being able to afford it!  And unexpected costs can add up fast when you own a home.  Broken pipes, air conditioning units that don’t work, leaky faucets and on and on.

So what do you do if you want to buy a house?  And how do you do it when it is your first house and the information out there is so daunting?  First, ask around to get a mortgage lender that will truly talk you through the process.  And then once the paperwork is done and signed and you have written the check for your down payment, you can Plan Your First Move.

A good rule of thumb is to spend no more than 25% of your net income on your mortgage payment.  And yes, that includes any amount that you have to escrow.  I know if seems low, especially when that 4 bedroom house on the cul-de-ac is calling your name.  However, by staying within your budget you can not only afford the home but continue to afford it should you have income issues in the future!

Being financially smart when you choose, purchase and put money into a house can hard to decipher.  How do you know that adding granite to the kitchen to your house in your neighborhood will give you a return?  How do you know your neighborhood will hold it’s value?

Do you homework.  Just as you crunch every number and calculate every possible after cost, you should research via the internet, your real estate agent and current residents in the neighborhood to see what their comparisons and experiences are.  Pull the county records and see if an unsightly strip center will be built next to your beautiful new house.  Check the crime rate and the school ratings in the area.

Because one day you might want to sell that home and buy another one.  You want to make sure you have given yourself every advantage to selling at a profit if you can.

Responsibly buying a home is more than paying the mortgage.  It is making sure that you house is a financial benefit for years to come!

**This is a Guest Post by Genworth Financial.  All writings and opinions are my own.  Please see my Disclosure statement for more information.**