When I set out to buy my first home about five years ago, there was a lot that I didn't know I didn't know. I didn't know how important it was to only buy once you were ready, for example, or to evaluate the underlying financial health of a building because, in the long run, buying an apartment in a well-off complex saves you lots of money.
I did, however, suspect that it was a good idea not to buy more house than you could afford. So even though my husband was a corporate lawyer in Manhattan and I worked at a well-established non-profit, we set a strict budget for ourselves based on what we could easily manage, and we stuck to it.
That was one of the best decisions I ever made, in real estate or in life. Because, as it turns out, real estate can affect every part of your life, for better or for worse.