Before you start house shopping the most important thing to do is to get your finances in order. Go talk to your bank or mortgage broker (shop around) and get yourself pre-approved. This is accomplished when the lender actually pulls your credit score and looks at your income and current debt to see if and what mortgage amount you would be approved for.
This will avoid you searching in the wrong price range and perhaps getting your heart set on a house that you simply cannot afford. Buying real estate is thought to be a safe long term investment. While the first few years of mortgage payments typically will go towards the interest on your loan, eventually you will begin to pay off the principal amount and start earning equity in your home. The longer you stay, the more equity you typically will accumulate which you can then put down towards your dream home.
Ready to get into the real estate market? I can help you every step of the way!