Millennials (also known as generation Y) currently make up the largest cohort of the American population at about 75 million. That’s about two-fifths of the working-age population which means they’re also the biggest home-buying population. But they’re also the generation that’s the most saddled with debt. As such, they tend to be more wary of homeownership than previous generations. But despite all that, their sheer numbers mean they are still set to be the biggest home-buying segment in the coming years. Buying a home is a big undertaking. If it’s to go smoothly it helps to know the road ahead. If you’re a millennial that’s interested in homeownership then this what you need to know first.

1.) It’s expensive, like, really expensive

Might as well mention the elephant in the room to start with. Yes, it really is as expensive as you’ve probably heard. Saving enough for that down payment can easily take over a year or more. You’ll need to make sacrifices and learn to budget tightly if you’re to reach your goal. Even when you do reach your savings goal that’s still not the end of it. There’ll also be closing costs which are tough to estimate until the final day. Then there are maintenance and upkeep costs. Along with your monthly mortgage payments, there’ll be bills, annual taxes, and the occasional maintenance costs. Mentally prepare yourself beforehand to keep your anxiety in check.

2.) You may have to change your expectations with time

Becoming a homeowner is expensive but making it a reality really only comes down to one thing, being financially smart. Get a credit score and arrange a meeting with a mortgage broker to see what you can afford with your income and lifestyle. It may turn out that you need to build up your credit score before you can qualify for the funding needed on your dream home. If so, then set a goal and work to make that happen. It may happen that you’ll need to revise your expectations of how much home you can buy or what neighborhood you can live in. At this early stage, it’s important that you remain flexible. Your own wants and needs may change with time as well. So don’t commit until you’re sure what you’re looking for.

3.) Once the process begins, things happen pretty quickly

When you first start out, buying a home can be a slow process. You’ll spend a lot of time learning about the market, seeing a lot of homes and getting discouraged along the way. But once you do find a place, things tend to start moving pretty quickly. You may be competing with other buyers and have to make an offer quickly. If it’s accepted, then you’ll move to negotiations and getting all your affairs in order. Before you know it, the closing day is being scheduled and you’re looking forward to moving day. 

4.) It’s a big life adjustment

If you’ve only rented up until now then you need to prepare for what will be a big adjustment, both financially and emotionally. Saving up the down payment and getting your mortgage is only half the battle. Homeownership will come with a lot of financial burdens that you’ll need to be sure you can handle. Starting good saving habits now as you work toward that down payment will lay the foundation for being money savvy once you are a homeowner. So, the sooner you start the better. 

Along with the financial side, the emotional side will be just as big an adjustment. Unlike a rental apartment, it’ll now be your responsibility to maintain the home and do repairs when something goes wrong. Educating yourself on how to look after a home and picking up some DIY skills will go a long way.

5.) You may get some strange reactions from people

Millennials are very skeptical when it comes to buying a home and with the Great Recession being a close memory it’s not hard to see why. When you tell people that you’re buying a home be ready for a lot of criticism and doubt. Some people will tell you it’s a bad idea in this economy but in the end, you have to think about what’s right for you. If putting down some roots is what you want at this stage in life, then be ready to stand your ground against the naysayers.  

Becoming a homeowner is expensive but in the long run, it’s the better call. If you feel committing to staying put for 6-10 years, then it makes far more sense to buy rather than rent. In time you’ll build equity on that purchase which can later be used to upgrade to a larger home when you’ve outgrown the old one. The sooner you start the process, the sooner you can start building your future.