Buying your first home can be very exhilarating, but it can also be stressful if you don't know what to expect when looking at homes for sale. Taking several steps can make the whole process go smoother and allow you to enjoy becoming a homeowner. So if you're planning on purchasing your first home soon, use the following tips:

Establish a Budget

Prior to talking to a real estate agent or viewing homes for sale, it is essential to determine how much you can afford to pay for a home. If you're like most first-time buyers, you will probably need a mortgage loan in order to pay for your new home, and this will help determine your budget. The best thing to do before looking at homes is to get pre-approved for a mortgage through a lending institution. When you get pre-approved, all of your financial records will be reviewed, and the lender will tell you how much you can borrow and what the interest rate on the loan will be.

Don't confuse the terms pre-approved with pre-qualified when it comes to mortgages-- when you're pre-approved you have a firm offer of a loan, while being pre-qualified only means that you have been identified as a good candidate for a loan, but your information has not gone through underwriting and you're not guaranteed to be approved.

Select a Real Estate Agent Carefully

As a first time buyer, an experienced real estate agent is a very valuable resource. Thus, it is a good idea to meet with several real estate agents until you find a professional who you feel comfortable working closely with. Ideally, you should select a real estate agent who specializes in acting as a buyers agent-- this type of agent will have a lot of experience negotiating on your behalf. When you're buying your first house, you will most likely have a lot of questions, so make sure that your real estate agent doesn't mind taking calls and answering emails throughout the whole home buying process.

Be Realistic and Willing to Compromise

There is a good chance that your first home will not be a house that has every feature and amenity that you have ever wanted. Budget constraints typically require first time buyers to make compromises in order to purchase a house that is best for their needs. Take the time to evaluate what you need in a home versus what you would like to have. Creating a list of needs versus wants can assist your real estate agent in finding your perfect first home.