Buying a starter home is a simultaneously overwhelming and exciting task. For many young Canadians, it represents a certain threshold, and is still considered a coveted milestone for many. If you’re starting your search for a starter home, here’s what you absolutely need to know:

Work with an agent who specializes in first-time buyers. An agent who knows and empathizes with your situation is crucial. Unlike a seasoned buyer, this will be your first time hearing certain terms, understanding certain financial and home-buying policies, and managing your emotions as you view homes and negotiate the buying process. A solid agent on your side is key!

You’ll never hit everything on your “must-have” list. Truthfully, this advice applies to nearly every buyer, but it can be a bit of a shock for first-timers. While it’s good to search with some parameters in mind, buy the best you can afford and know that a “starter home” likely means you’ll be moving on to bigger and better things. Are the granite countertops really a deal-breaker?

Get pre-approved for a mortgage. Getting your financials in order first is a key part of the search process. Not only does this give you a sense of what you can afford, but when it comes to making an offer, a pre-approved mortgage could be the difference between your offer and someone else’s. If you’re a first-time buyer, it might be best to go through a mortgage broker rather than directly through a bank, as a broker will have more options for you.

Consider buying outside the city. Home prices are higher in urban centers. If you’re finding that home prices in cities might significantly cut into your lifestyle, consider opting for a home outside the core that’s close to transit, which will give you the best of both worlds.