By Dave Ramsey:

When to Buy a House

First, how do you know it’s the right time to buy a house? Before you even think about starting the steps of the home-buying process, there are a few things you should do:

Evaluate your finances. Make sure you have a consistent income and a good chunk of cash for a substantial down payment. (We’ll talk more about this later.) Buying a house before you’re ready can lead to a financial disaster.

Consider the housing market. If you want to make a smart investment on your home purchase, you need to buy a house that will go up in value. Talk to your real estate agent about home values in your area and those home values’ potential.

Think about your life stage. It doesn’t make sense to buy a house if you may move next year. The process of buying and selling a house is expensive, so make sure you feel confident you’ll be in that area for the next 5–7 years. This is one of the reasons why we recommend waiting at least a year after getting married to buy a house.

If you think it’s the right time to step into home ownership, here’s how to get started!