1. Start saving 10% of your paycheck and put it in a home savings account.

2. Talk to a lender and a REALTOR® to see what you can afford and are comfortable with.

3. Once you know what the monthly costs of the home will be, act as if that is what you are currently spending. Put the difference between that and your rent in your home savings account.

Did you know that people that own a home are worth more money? It’s true! The Federal Reserve indicates that a homeowner is worth 40 times more than a renter. This alone is a good reason to start growing your financial future through home ownership. The average homeowner is worth $150,000 to $200,000 more than a renter. People view homeowners as stable and community oriented.

So how do you get into your first home? Well, let me warn you that homes do cost. They have expenses that recur every month, like the mortgage payment, insurance, utilities and even some maintenance issues. There are also the surprise maintenance issues that you were not expecting. A broken fan or window. The water heater goes out. You need to have money to fix these issues, too. You can maintain a home warranty, but there are expenses associated with them as well.

Even making an offer on a home has some expenses tied to the offer. There is the earnest money, the inspections and the appraisal that you will need to pay for. An appraisal runs $400 to $700. Home inspection prices are dependent on the size of the home, but typically run somewhere around $450. A wood inspection will run you around $75 and a sewer scope will vary from $250 to $300.

A good place to start building your financial future and get prepared to buy and own your own home is to start saving 10% of your paycheck every month in a separate home savings account set up for purchasing a home.

You should also talk to a lender and a REALTOR® to help you determine what is a good amount for you to have in savings so you can buy the home you want and help you determine what the payments will most likely be. If you are saving money for six months, what you can afford will change, however right now interest rates are fairly stable and a home value can go up a bit without changing the monthly costs much.

You should also put any money that a home would cost you over what you are paying now for rent in your home savings account. This helps you get used to not having that money to spend and increases your savings as you get closer to your goal of owning a home.

By the way, here is a fourth thing you should do if you are trying to buy a home: Don’t buy anything major like a bedroom set or a car, or even an oversized TV for the new home. These purchases affect your credit scores and can change the amount you can borrow or your ability to borrow at all. Wait until you buy the home and you will get better interest rates on the car and know the correct size of tv or bedroom set for the house you are buying.

Currently the median home price is $198,500, which is only 7% up over last year. That is a good return on a home investment, but is less than $14,000 difference in the price and interest rates that significantly lower than they were last year. On an average, all types of loans are about 1.5% lower than they were. This is a savings of $160 a month on a $198,500 home.

Right now buying a home is less expensive than renting a home, so start saving and have a conversation or two with a lender and a REALTOR®.

Joan Wilson is an active REALTOR ® with Long Realty in Sierra Vista and Cochise County. She is a member of the Huachuca 50 board, past President of Women’s Council of REALTORS®, past President of the Southeast Arizona Association of REALTORS®, the past Regional Vice President and Chapter Chairperson of WeSERV and current WeSERV AAR (Arizona Association of REALTORS®) Director.