Buying your first home can be such an exciting time. Even if you aren’t quite ready yet, there are things you can do now to prepare for when the time is right.

One of the first things you should think about is your credit. This will determine the interest rate you have; this is a big deal when you are talking about a 30-year loan. Get your credit ready by paying your bills on time and lowering your debt. Do you have credit cards you can pay off? Set a goal to get it done. It helps to check your credit score on a regular basis too. Services like Credit Karma allow you to keep tabs on it for free.

Save as much as you can beforehand. The more you have for a down payment, the better! Determine how far off you are from the start of your home buying journey and set savings goals. Buying a home does come with some out of pocket costs. Things like a home inspection and closing costs are upfront, make sure you save for those things too.

It’s important to think about how much you can afford. When we say afford, we mean afford comfortably. You don’t want to be stretched so thin that you don’t have room for the unexpected. Things break, life happens, you want to make sure you have a little bit of a cushion for those things.

Once you know how much you can actually afford and you have saved for your down payment, make a wish list. What are your non-negotiables? Write them down. Your list should have two categories – ‘must haves’ and ‘would be nice.’ When you speak with your real estate agent this will help him/her narrow down a list of great homes that fit your vision.

Now comes the fun part… the house hunting process. Remember this is a marathon, not a sprint. Don’t buy the first thing you see. Take your time to find the house that is right for you. You will find it and once the process is over you will be glad you did it.