Maybe you’ve owned a home for years, or you’ve just left your parent’s home and are looking to get onto the property ladder. Either way, getting the deposit ready for purchasing your dream home is no easy task. For most people, buying a home is the largest purchase they will ever make in their lives, so it comes as no great surprise that buying your dream home is going to take some research and time.

The good news is that by examining your budget with a fine tooth comb and looking at buying a home as a long term investment, you can buy your perfect pad with a minimum of stress on your finances and have a happy and hopeful future.

Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you get your personal budget in shape, find the best mortgage, and buy the house of your dreams.

Find out your income after tax

First things first, you need to know how much money you have available after the necessary taxes are taken out of your paycheck. You can confirm this number by looking at your pay stub, or you can use an online income calculator to see what amount of money you’re left with at the end of the month.

Make a budget

After you know what your income is after tax, make a list of all your expenses that are essential such as: utility bills, rent, insurance, and groceries. Don’t forget to include extras like tuition or debt payments. Then deduct those expenses from your after-tax income to get your expendable income.

There are multiple apps and services that can help you analyze and break down your personal finances in very visual and easy to use ways. Once you have all of your finances analyzed, it’s time to take a critical look at your expenditures and adjust your budget so that you’re putting as much of your expendable income into your savings as possible, and paying off any outstanding debts.

Get rid of debt

It’s possible to buy a home with debt, but it’s a whole lot easier to get a mortgage and then subsequently pay off your mortgage, if you don’t have to also pay off any other outstanding debt. Not only that, having as little debt as possible improves your credit score which is an important component in purchasing your home.

Save for your deposit

Since the last housing crash in 2008, banks have been much more reluctant to lend money. Many require at least a 20% deposit. For example, if you want to buy a $200,000 home, you’d need a downpayment of $40,000. That’s quite a chunk of money—but it can be done by focusing your budget on increasing your savings.

Step by step

Depending on where you are on the property ladder—that is, a first-time buyer or seasoned homeowner—the next step in buying your dream property may be different. In either case, you want to be realistic. Most lenders advise that you purchase a home that is 2.5 times your annual salary.

This cost includes not only the mortgage of the home, but any maintenance and homeowner association fees as well. So if you’re purchasing your first home, this will likely mean a smaller home with maybe fewer amenities. That’s OK! Buying a starter home and adding value to it will improve your equity and can ultimately provide you with the funds to move on to a bigger and better home.

Get pre-approved

When you start your house hunt, it’s wise to get pre-approved from a lender. This will show buyers that you’re serious about purchasing a home and are also able to afford the home you are looking at.

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Sell your own home

If you already have a property, you should consider selling your home for sale by owner (FSBO). This allows you to avoid paying commission fees for selling your current property. While it may end up costing you more of your own time and energy, avoiding hiring a realtor is one way to save a good chunk of change for your dream home.

Get your dream home inspected

Consider hiring a home inspector who is separate from the appraiser required by the lender. The home inspector will point out any potential issues you may need to deal with in the future, including any issues that the homeowner isn’t aware of or didn’t include in the listing.

What’s the market like?

Don’t forget to do your own due diligence! Check out what other homes in the area are selling for. Make sure you’re paying roughly what other similar properties are going for. You can use this information as a bargaining chip if the property you want is significantly higher than what other houses in the area are going for.

Buying your dream home

The final tip? Buy that home! If you’re looking to sell your home in Georgia—or any other place for that matter!—then consider using a flat fee multiple listing service to help you upgrade into your perfect dream home today.

This article was written by Sabado Domingo from Len Penzo dot Com and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.