Buying property can be a long and tricky process for first-time buyers, especially for those who aren’t prepared. Knowing what you want is only part of the equation. Realtors and experienced buyers have weighed in and agree on five things that all first-time buyers should know.Tip #1: Start Preparations Well In AdvanceWe all know that buying real estate is a big decision, and it requires a great deal of planning if you want the process to work out in your favor. However, what most people may not realize is that the planning should start as early as possible. Specifically, if you have plans to buy a home a year or two from now. Start reducing your budget today, so that you can save more money for a down payment. Paying off any debts and monitoring your credit are also very essential to getting the best deal from a mortgage lender. The key here is to have the lowest debt-to-income ratio that you can possibly attain.Tip #2: Get Approved For a Home Loan FirstOne of the biggest oversights that first-time home buyers make is that they have a tendency to skip the paperwork and go straight to shopping. That’s a very bad idea. You’ll be disappointed if you find the right property just to discover that you can’t afford it. Also, keep in mind that pre-qualified is not the same thing as being pre-approved. Nearly everyone is pre-qualified for a home without ever really submitting any paperwork. Pre-approval, on the other hand, is a much more invasive process that will give you a better idea of what you’ll be able to afford before you go shopping for real estate.Tip #3: Think Long-TermBuying real estate is an exciting and exhausting process, but don’t get caught up in the allure of all of the beautiful homes, especially the ones that you just can’t afford. Be practical about your potential buy. Don’t just consider short-term expenses associated with the home but also the long-term ones as well. Think about buying a home as the investment that it truly is.Tip #4: Consider Your Family NeedsFirst-time home buyers are often advised to buy real estate in a good school district, but the truth is there are other factors to consider when it comes to family needs. Some may need to consider the possibility of extended family, like in-laws, coming to visit, long-term care of an aging relative, or adult children moving out of the home.Tip #5: Ask an Expert to Weigh InRealtors can be a secret weapon when it comes to helping you make the right purchase. Not only do they possess a wealth of knowledge about the industry, but they can also give you the benefit of their experience and contacts.