Deciding to purchase a home is an exciting step for many individuals. Whether setting down roots for a new family, investing in an up-and-coming urban center or anything in between, there are plenty of reasons why taking the plunge as a buyer can have great payoffs. Making the move from a renter to a first-time buyer, however, can also seem daunting. These steps will give you a better idea of how to get there:

Crunch some numbers. Budgeting early is the best way for you to figure out whether homeownership is right for you. Make a list of monthly expenses and see how much wiggle room you would have with a mortgage payment and/or condo fees on top of that. This is also a great time to have a credit score calculated and take steps to eliminate as much debt as possible. 

Get pre-approved for a mortgage. Getting pre-approved is an important first step in the home-search process. Not only does it give you a sense of what you can afford, but it also gives you an edge when it comes to making an offer. Your offer may get chosen over someone who has neglected to get pre-approved.

Establish criteria. Deciding where and how you want to live is another crucial step. Are you willing to undertake a longer commute to work to afford a bigger home? Is downtown condo living your best option? Do some market research to figure out what neighbourhoods make sense for your lifestyle and budget.

Get your down payment in order. To buy your dream home, you’ll need up to 20 per cent of a down payment saved up, depending on your lender and price of your dream home. Ask your mortgage broker for details specific to your situation and be prepared to come up with a strategy for squirreling away some extra cash.

Find an expert to seal the deal. Likely the most important part of your home-buying journey is finding the right real estate agent. A trusted professional will be able to answer questions about mortgages, take you around neighbourhoods and negotiate on the purchase of your dream home.