For many people, buying their first home represents the biggest financial commitment they'll ever make. Before making such a big decision, you should consider carefully a variety of factors and whether home ownership is right for you. The best advice is to look at buying a home first as a lifestyle investment, and only secondly as a financial investment.
Once you've decided to buy you'll want to keep in mind some practical guidelines. First, determine how much house you can afford. Mortgage borrowing guidelines specify that housing costs should not exceed 28% of gross income, and total debt payments should not exceed 36% of gross income. There's also the down payment to consider, as well as points and closing costs. You'll also want to get an idea of monthly operating costs.
Remember that much of a home's value is derived from the values of those surrounding it. Consider the qualities that will be attractive to future buyers as well as those attractive to you.