Are you a first time home buyer who’s ready to buy your dream home for the first time? There are 7 essential things you must know before making a purchase. The entire home-buying process might seem a little daunting. This guide is designed to make the home buying process a little easier for you while going through this process.

1: Know Your Wants vs. Your Needs
What type of home are you looking for? A fixer-upper? A move-in-ready condo? Or are you not quite sure?

Before anything else, take the time to weigh your wants and needs when it comes to buying your first home. What things would you love to have? What can’t you live without? Taking the time early in the house hunt to decide what, exactly, you’re looking for in a first home will be a serious game-changer down the line once you’ve started seriously searching.

Take the time to do your homework on every aspect of your potential home. Know the pros and cons of your wants and needs so you can better understand what you’re really looking for in a home. The more careful and thoughtful about this aspect of the process at the beginning, the more satisfied you’ll be with your purchase years down the line.

2: Factor in Fees
It’s super easy and exciting to hop on Zillow or any number of realty websites and see your estimated mortgage on that house you just have to have but beware: Lots of potential home purchases will come with fees and expenses.

Most estimated mortgages won’t include fees like closing costs, down payments, insurance fees or taxes. When establishing your budget and wish list, be sure to think well beyond the ticket price of a home. When buying your first house, the worst thing you can do is to get in over your head financially so take the time to really understand what a new home will cost you before you sign on that dotted line. Your future self will thank you!

3: Understand the Investment
Many first time home buyers find themselves compromising on some aspects of their home, which is totally fine and normal to do! The more important aspect of purchasing a first home, however, is to really understand the investment you’re making.

It may be some first-time buyers’ instinct to go for the home with the most square footage their budget allows–which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Remember to consider all aspects of your purchase when investing in a first home. Questions to ask yourself: How’s the roof? Is the location ideal for your needs?

The best houses in the worst locations are likely not going to turn as great of an ROI as that cute little fixer-upper in that awesome neighborhood. When buying your first home, you’ll want to consider every facet of your investment and think about how your first home can eventually turn into your dream home down the line.

4: Go the Extra Mile
We live in the awesome age of the Internet, which means we can pretty much have whatever we need at the push of a button. Want to look at this house? Cool, Google the address. That’s it! Right?

Wrong.

When shopping for your first home (or any time thereafter, really), don’t take the photos’ word for it. Real estate photos can be tricky. You really don’t know what a place will look or feel or smell like until you get up and visit.

Beyond that, be sure to go the extra mile and ask every possible question. Just because the listing mentions several features of a home doesn’t mean it’s an exhaustive list. No question or consideration is too small or silly to inquire about further. Remember, buying your first home is a huge deal. Wouldn’t you prefer to know exactly what you’re getting into–even if you feel a tiny bit annoying?

5: Choose Your Realtor Wisely!
Chances are, all this information feels a little overwhelming. That’s okay. One surefire way to demystify the first time home buying process a bit, however, is to hire an awesome realtor who can guide you through the process.

This may be your first rodeo, but chances are, a local realtor has already been around the ring enough times to be a total expert. When it comes to factoring in fees or understanding the neighborhoods with the best value and ROI potential, you really can’t go wrong with hiring an awesome realtor to help you through from scanning the market to closing. A good realtor can negotiate for you and provide you with great connections and advice. You may not know the market or understand the home buying process just yet, but that’s exactly what a trusty realtor is there for! Do your research. Hire a reliable, hardworking realtor who’ll make the whole process that much more exciting and positive for you.

6: Choose a Great Inspector!
Remember those connections your realtor might have for you? A great inspector should be one.

When working to understand your overall investment in your new home, you’ll need a reliable home inspector who can help you verify the track you’re on. While a house may look updated and lovely, a good inspector will be just what you need to ensure all updates are up-to-code, and to double-check for any underlying problems that may come back to bite you down the line. One of the worst things that can happen as a first time home buyer is blindly investing in a house that has loads of internal problems you knew nothing about when you signed for it. Hire a great inspector before you even think of closing on a home. You’ll be glad you did.

7: Be Sure You’re Ready
Buying your first home is more than just a financial investment, it’s an emotional one too! Before you get deeply involved in the house hunting process, take the time to consider your own readiness.

Remember that, unlike with apartment living, home owning means that every fee and repair that may come up in the house is totally your responsibility. Keep in mind the fact that homeownership is an investment in the future, and that owning your first home is likely not a short-term thing. Buying a first home is a huge step in life. Take the time to consider whether or not you’re really ready for the undertaking before pulling the trigger. Oh–and be sure you’re ready to enjoy the process, too!