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The following is a guest post by Money Supermarket.

If you are looking to purchase your first home then a property plan can help you set goals and doing some research will ensure sure that you are well prepared for the experience.

A good starting point is to a mortgage calculator as this will give you a good idea of what you can afford. When you add figures into a mortgage calculator, you take the cost of a home and plug in the figures.

As you adjust the interest rates and down payment amount, you can get an idea of what your monthly payment will be. No matter what the mortgage calculator says, most people plan to have a higher payment due to things like homeowner's insurance and property taxes.

It starts with setting a savings goal. Based on the figures that you came up with, you need to have a certain amount of money for a down payment. Much like the mortgage payment, make the figure a little bit higher to cover things like closing costs.

Once you have a savings goal in mind, figure out how long it will take you to save. If you really want to take advantage of the current housing market, you may find yourself in a bit of a rush. If so, cut costs where you can in order to save more money.

If you want to own a home in a year, work out the amount that you need to save and divide it by twelve in order to get an amount you need to save each month.

For many individuals and families, this makes the goal much more manageable.

As you are saving, you need to begin researching the property market in your area. Despite what you read in the national papers or see on national television shows, each part of the United States is facing its own individual housing crisis.

You need to see what is going on with the homes in the neighborhood where you would like to reside.

Talking with a real estate agent will give you the information that you need. They can show you the cost of the homes a few years ago versus the cost now. You can get an idea of whether you should wait for a while or get into a home as soon as possible.

If you can, try to look into several different areas. This will give you some comparisons and help you make a decision on what is best for your family as far as location and finances are concerned.

Research can also give you some information on the difference between purchasing a home that is in the midst of foreclosure, a short sale and a regular sale. Each has its own benefits and pitfalls.

Getting assistance from a professional will make this next step a little easier.

Because of all the buying opportunities that await you, don't rush into anything. As you look at different properties, double check to make sure that they fit into your property plan. Think about their cost, their location and the benefits of buying this specific home.

The clearer your property plan, the easier it will be to reach your goals. As you accumulate information, keep it all together in a folder so that you can go back and reference everything when you are set to make a decision.