Buying a home is a big step. You want to have all your ducks in a row before you ever even sit down with a real estate agent. If you are currently shopping for a new house, it is important that you follow these steps so that you build a solid foundation.

1. You need to research the market.

You already know that buying a house or property comes with plenty of homework, especially if you have a growing family or location-specific concerns. Not only do you want to research the crime rates of your neighborhood, but you also want to look up the going rate of homes in the area apart from yours. You may even want to take a look at the list of nearby sex offenders.

2. Don't forget to make a list of the things you absolutely must have.

Every homebuyer should make a list of things that you will not relent on. In fact, it is better if you begin writing this list before you even start to look at houses so that you are not swayed. If you have a partner you will be buying the home with, it is a good idea to each make a separate list and then talk about each of them later. This helps you put on a solid front for the process of looking at homes.

3. Don't go with the first real estate agent you see.

Real estate agents can talk up a great game, but are you sure that the first agent you met with is the right one for you? Meet with several agents before deciding on what, ensuring that you are going to choose an agent that is great with first-time buyers.

4. Know your financial status first.

What do you pre-qualify for? It is a good idea to understand your abilities before you even start looking at houses. You do not want to get your hopes up before realizing that you actually cannot buy the house you want.

5. Take time to relax.

Make sure you do not devote every minute of your day to looking at houses. The stress can catch up with you. Make sure that you take the time to rest and relax.

It may be stressful to buy your first home, but putting a solid plan in place will ensure that you make smart decisions that will lend way to a brighter future—in your new home, of course.