Home-buying is an incredibly emotional process. In a perfect world, you'd set aside all emotion when deciding on a home; of course, this is unrealistic since humans tend to base decisions partially based on emotion, despite how hard we try to think logically. If you can, create a list before you even start looking at houses. Read: Mortgage Options - Chase Bank. Write down what you feel like you have to have in a home. This way, when you see a house that has none of those things, you'll be reminded that the house probably is not for you. While you may choose to ignore the list in the end anyway, it will at least serve as a reminder and hopefully you won't choose that house.
You've got to be sure to budget correctly. And not just the insurance, taxes, and interest. Also factor in the cost of commuting; and not just the financial cost, but emotional. Can you handle driving an hour to work everyday? Can you handle the gas for driving a total of 2 hours five days a week back and forth? Commute time is an important aspect that many owners tell themselves they'll be okay with, only to regret it weeks after their move-in date.
Are you OK with paying HOA (homeowners association) fees? They can get pricey. Also, if you plan to rent the house out, you have to ask them if that's okay. Some homeowner's associations forbid owners to rent out the property. This may seem unfair, but remember, it's a community. They have to think about what is best for everyone. This is why some homeowners association will not allow their owners to rent their house out to tenants. Yet another reason why reading contracts is so essential in real estate. Know that a home is very likely the biggest purchase you'll ever make. If you don't understand some of the wording in a contract, it's essential that you ask all parties for clarification.
Don't forget to learn anything and everything you can about the neighbors. After all, they'll be living next to you day in and day out. You want to know who it is that you'll be surrounded with on a day to day business. Be sure that the home is in a good location, and not in a high-crime area. You want to feel safe in your brand new home. For further reading, see: First-Time Homebuyers - Quicken Loans, and: First-Time Homebuyer Credit.