So you think you’re finally ready to enter the responsible world of being a homeowner. Welcome to the club! But before you start trying to decide whether or not to have a hot tub or pool (or both!), take a look at the below list of Dos and Don’ts to avoid common rookie mistakes.

Do choose the right lender. Look for one with a good reputation who delivers on their promises, especially in regard to the rate they offer and the timeliness of getting the loan in place. Additionally, don’t be blinded by low-interest rates. Lenders know that novice homebuyers can be lured by low interest rates and try to take advantage of this by offering low rates only to add higher backend fees.

Don’t fall for your first. Resist the temptation to make an offer on the first home you like. Shop around and take your time before committing to one of the biggest financial relationships of your life.

Do the math. Your monthly housing costs should be gauged against your income. Keep your total housing payment equal to or lower than 50% of your monthly gross income. Also, hold off on making any huge purchases until after you have closed. Lenders will re-check your debt load just before closing, and could renege if they see large additions, even at the last minute.

Don’t only think about the ‘now’. Play the ‘what if’ game and consider how your home may work if your needs or circumstances change. Things like the kind of neighborhood or quality of local schools may not matter to you if you don’t currently have a family, but can impact your ability to resell further down the line.

Do invest in a professional inspection. Sellers don’t always disclose the whole truth to potential buyers – you’d be surprised at what a fresh coat of paint can cover up! Splurge on an experienced professional, it will save you time, money and house-induced tears later on.

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