This article originally appeared in the Waco Today:

Is buying a home on your to-do list for 2023? If you’ve made the decision to dive into homeownership, you’ll probably research what you’ll need to do to buy your home. Unfortunately, when searching online for “steps to homeownership,” you’ll find a lot of information, but one critical initial step is probably missing: homebuyer’s education.

This is one of the most important ways to learn about what you need to know about buying a home for the first or second time. It’s also a great way to get many of the questions answered that you may have about the process.

Buying a home is a major financial decision for most of us. It’s one way to build generational wealth, build memories, grow our families, build equity with each monthly payment, and if you didn’t know, children perform much better in school when they’re in a stable environment. Last but not least, our health outcomes are much better than those who rent, and we tend to feel pride in ownership.

Attending a homebuyer education course can relieve you of those uncertainties of buying a home as you are walked through the homebuying process. Not only does homebuyer education help prepare you for this process, but you’ll also be less likely to experience mortgage delinquencies and foreclosure once you become a homeowner.

Topics discussed during the homebuyer’s education class range from money management, understanding credit, obtaining a mortgage loan, shopping for a home, and protecting your investment.

So why not develop your path to homeownership the right way. Now that you know the first step, let’s look at the remaining steps:

2. Determine how much you can afford to purchase.

3. Get pre-approved for the loan.

4. Determine what kind of a home you want and need.

5. Find a real estate agent.

6. Shop for a home.

7. Write a contract on a home.

8. Get a home inspection.

9. Secure your mortgage loan.

10. Get homeowner’s insurance.

11. Close on YOUR home.

Now that the steps of homeownership have been identified, the process of buying a home is the same. It’s crucial to be educated about the process of buying a home, which will tend to make one’s journey to homeownership less stressful in a volatile housing market.

If you are ready to take that first step, look for an organization providing homeownership education in your local area. There are non-profit organizations, like NeighborWorks Waco, that offer these courses free of charge.

An educated homebuyer is the best homebuyer, so take full advantage of the homebuyer education available to you and make homeownership a reality for you and your family.