When it comes to owning a home, a good rule of thumb is that you can afford to spend up to 28 percent of your gross income on housing expenses. But there's more to affording a home than keeping your monthly payments under that percentage.
Before buying, you should start by checking your credit score, which will affect the interest rate on your mortgage. Good credit can mean significantly lower monthly payments, so if your score isn't great, you might want to take some time to improve it before shopping for a home.
Next, you'll want to build up your emergency fund.
"It's always important, from a broader financial planning standpoint, to have an emergency fund," certified financial planner Michelle Brownstein tells CNBC, and it's particularly important for homeowners, who no longer have a super to help them deal with roof leaks, broken appliances or other pricey repairs.