I work with alot of first time home buyers and many of them are in the same boat... financial uncertainty!
The same questions start sawing away at you and, before you know it, you have talked yourself out of purchasing a home before you even get out of the gate:
Buying a home is too expensive
This is why your first move should always be to call a Realtor. A Realtor can talk to you about the housing market in the communities you are looking in and provide you with information about home values. This will help you to set reasonable expectations about housing costs. If you are in fact going to be priced out of your preferred community, your Realtor can recommend other communities that will line up with your price point as well as the other important factors in your home search such as School District, quality of life, area amenities or commute.
I don't know how much I can afford
Again, call a Realtor! We have relationships with trusted loan professionals who can work with you through the pre-approval process and tell you how much you qualify to borrow. You may be pleasantly surprised! You may also get a reality check and decide to re-evaluate your price point or expectations. Aside from pre-approval, a good lender may also give you advice to restructure some other debts and free up the amount of money you can afford to put towards housing costs on a monthly basis or into savings for a down payment.
I have limited credit history and won't qualify, I think I should wait before talking to a Realtor
Wrong! If you have limited credit history a Realtor can give you some pointers about what you can do to establish credit and help you put together a long term plan for purchasing a home. Something as simple as taking out a small loan from a local lender and repaying it ahead of schedule or applying for a credit card with a small limit and paying it off in full every month can quickly establish good credit. You don't need 10 years of credit history to qualify.
I don't think my credit score is good enough
Call a Realtor! (Are you seeing a pattern here?) There are plenty of things that you can do to improve your credit score quickly such as establishing a good payment history on your current accounts, paying down a low balance credit card, or helping you to put together a budget and putting you on the path to getting rid of debts that are weighing you down.
It is a common misconception that you shouldn't talk to a Realtor until you are ready to go look at houses. The truth is, I have plenty of clients that are several years away from purchasing a home. As I've said before, Realtors aren't just a set of keys! Talking to a Realtor about your long term goals, getting guidance and keeping in touch throughout the process is going to put you in the best possible financial shape when you are ready to move forward.