If you are an aspiring first-time homebuyer, you may already feel a bit overwhelmed. Relax!

This is a big step, but an exciting and life-changing one as well. It's normal to be nervous as you embark on this thrilling new chapter in your life. And good news! you can make the process easier and less stressful with just a little planning.

Read on for a few of the best tips and tricks to make the experience go smoothly for you. Before you know it, you'll be living in the home of your dreams.

Get Real ― About Your Budget

Before you look at a single home, you must be honest about how much house you can afford. You can find some great tools online to help you understand how much you need, but it all hinges on what is known as your housing-expense ratio. This calculation measures your ability to make your mortgage payments.

Essentially, it is the ratio of housing expenses as a percentage of your income, before you deduct Social Security, Medicare and other taxes (also known as your gross income). Most lenders require that you have a housing expense ratio of less than 28 percent to approve you for a home loan.

It's also a good idea to get all of your ducks in a row by getting a copy of your credit report. If it shows anything that will keep you from getting good terms on a loan, you can dispute it if you believe it is in error. Finally, you will need to prequalify with a mortgage lender, as most sellers will request proof of your financial capacity to purchase before accepting an offer.

Perfect Your Wish List

If you're going to buy a home, then you need to know what features you do and do not want. Take the time to brainstorm your list before touring homes. Do you want a big yard? How many bedrooms fit your needs (and your future needs, too)? How many bathrooms?

Nailing down what you want in a home will not only help you when you start looking, but it will also help your real estate agent understand what you want. This way, no one's time is wasted.

Real estate experts recommend breaking your wish list down into two categories needs and wants. What do you absolutely need and what would you like to see in your new home if it was possible?

Assemble Your Dream Team

Remember, this is not a process to undertake alone. Most industry experts recommend finding the right real estate agent first, and asking him or her for referrals to lenders and mortgage brokers.

When looking for an agent, stick with one who is a bona fide Realtor®, a member of the National Association of Realtors®, for the most ethical and professional representation. Your agent will guide you through the process and make sure you fully understand the intricacies of the transaction.

This is arguably the largest purchase you will make in your life thus far, and it's not to be undertaken lightly. The Edie Israel Team, serving Yorba Linda and the surrounding communities of Southern California, is devoted to ensuring the best possible outcome for your homebuying and selling needs. Contact us today and let us offer even more tips and tricks to help you, the first-time homebuyer.