There are so many different “ first-time buyer” programs out there that it would be next to impossible to say which is best. Beyond that, however, here are a few very important things to keep in mind:
See a mortgage consultant BEFORE you go shopping for a home. Having a pre-approval in hand will give you a great deal more credibility when dealing with real estate agents.
When you have your mortgage consultation, be frank about what range of total housing payment you feel comfortable with. Even if you might be able to get approved for a payment that eats up 40 or 50% of your gross monthly income, think about how you your lifestyle would have to change if your disposable income went down by a significant amount. Be sure to take into consideration the fact that your budget will have to include a number of things that you didn’t have to pay for when you were renting. Lots of people are now paying the piper because they didn’t do just that. Just because you qualify for a $250,000 loan doesn’t necessarily mean that getting it is a good idea.
Be realistic and honest with yourself about your current and future needs and upcoming life events. Those factors are different for everyone and mortgages aren’t “one size fits all.” By working with an experienced and knowledgeable mortgage professional, you will be able to tailor a solution that fits your individual needs.
When shopping for your loan, find a mortgage professional you feel comfortable with and whose questions demonstrate that they have your best interests at the forefront. Your experience will be a much more rewarding one.
Take a look at some of the other questions I’ve answered and that the other contributors on this wiki have answered. There are quite a few — going through them just may answer some other questions you might have or make you think of new questions to ask. By getting as much information as you can the more able you will be to make an informed decision about buying your new home.