We can all agree that the purchase of a home is one of the largest investments you will make in your lifetime. With that said you want to make certain you make the right decision and have all the details squared away. If you are considering the purchase of a home, whether it is your first time or not, you should always be prepared with a detailed plan of action.

First things first, it’s time to start seriously saving for the down payment. Depending on how soon you want to move, you will want to start saving at least one year out. Begin planning your budget and decide how much you can afford and are willing to spend on your new home. Contrary to popular belief you can put less than 20% down on a home. The only downfall to this is you’ll end up paying private mortgage insurance, which you’ll need to factor into your budget.

Once you figure out your budget, take your mortgage for a test drive. Each month you should set aside the monthly payment amount that you have estimated to see how it fits into your lifestyle as well as use this money to help you save for the down payment.

The next step in your plan should be to check your credit. You will want to review your credit at least nine months out to ensure there is enough time fix any errors or make any improvements, such as paying down debt to increase your credit score.

After you have your financials in order you have some time to research where you want to live. When you get closer to narrowing down your search, around three months out, it may be a good time to contact your lender and real estate agent to get pre-approved and start seriously searching for your new home.

When you have a plan in place the home buying process doesn’t have to be so stressful. Stick to the plan and work with your lender and real estate agent for a more enjoyable home buying experience.