(Washington Post) Before you start perusing real estate websites looking for your dream home, you first need to get serious about your money. Check your credit, save some cash and design a budget you can live with and you’ll be on your way to buying your first place.

“There are really two important numbers you need to know when you want to buy a home,” says Michael Smalley, Florida regional manager for Waterstone Mortgage. “You need to know how much you’re comfortable spending on your housing payment each month, and you need to know how much cash you have for a down payment.”

One of the biggest misconceptions is you need a large down payment to buy a home. The average down payment in a recent survey by NeighborWorks was 17 percent of the home’s price. However, the median down payment for first-time home buyers was 5 percent in 2017, according to the National Association of Realtors.

Below are steps you need to take to put your finances in order, preferably at least three to six months before you plan to purchase. . . . (Read More)