Buying a home is a huge investment for every homebuyer. Purchasing a home takes time, effort and knowledge. Preparation is key to having the best chance of buying the dream home you want at a price you can afford.

Learn vital information about buying your home with these helpful steps.

Conduct your research early on

Looking at a home and later discovering it is out of your price range or otherwise does not meet your needs likely sets you up for disappointment.

Look at home buying trends in the area you want to live. Learn about the school system, neighborhood amenities, how long houses typically stay on the market and other important details.

Determine what you want and need in your home

The wants and needs of a family of six or those of a senior couple likely vary considerably from a single, first-time homebuyer.

Do you have specific features in mind for your dream home? Are you considering a custom home? Perhaps you prefer a specific style of cabinetry or flooring, a specific number of bathrooms, or a designated office space.

Know your credit score

Work to improve your credit score if necessary before putting in an offer on a home.

A Bankrate article points to a statement from Barry Zigas, the director of housing policy for the Consumer Federation of America. Zigas stated that less than perfect credit likely means you have to pay “Sizable fees or higher down payment.”

Set your budget

Follow typical guidelines for determining how much house you can afford on your budget. This, explains CNN Money, includes aiming for a home with a price no more than two-and-a-half times your gross annual income.

Get pre-approved

Pre-approval helps determine the actual amount you can afford and likely strengthens your chances of buying the home you want when another potential buyer also wants the home.

The seller likely wants to sell to the person with all documentation, including pre-approval, over someone without pre-approval.

Hire a real estate agent

Although this is a common recommendation, some people may say that you do not need a real estate agent to buy a home. However, there are companies that will assist you through the entire process “At no additional cost to you.”

Do not skip the home inspection

The urge to save a few hundred dollars now possibly costs thousands later on if something is wrong with the home.

Make an offer

Make your offer quickly so that someone else does not get the home you want to buy. Negotiate the price if you wish, but do not lowball the seller.

Complete the deal

Get the appraisal. Close the sale and move into your home.

Avoid costly mistakes along the way

U.S. News & World Report contributor Geoff Williams reveals that in today’s market homebuyers cannot afford to make costly mistakes.

Buying more home than you can afford, skipping the home inspection, not having financing in order when making an offer are some common mistakes that potentially cost you your dream home.

Follow these steps and discover how you can potentially achieve your dream of owning your home, whether looking for your first home or your fifth experience of owning a home.

Chloe Marie enjoys dining out with her husband, getting involved with community events, and taking dance lessons. When she’s not doing one of these activities you can either find her cooking her favorite foods in her newly upgraded kitchen or snuggling on the couch with her dog and reading a good book.