Buying your first home can be exciting but also fraught. It's not a choice you want to get wrong.
She also revealed the two biggest mistakes she sees first-time homebuyers make: Buying more home than you can afford and settling down in an area that you haven't fully explored.
To determine how much home you can afford, a good rule of thumb is to make sure you don't spend more than 28 percent of your gross income on housing in any given month, says Brownstein. Keep in mind that monthly payments encompass more than just the mortgage — they also include interest, property taxes and insurance.
Plus, when you become a homeowner, you also become your own super, Brownstein notes: "There are a lot of things that, as renters, we take for granted. Going from renting to owning is a big adjustment because all of a sudden you can't call your landlord if the washing machine breaks. You have to pay for it."
You'll want to plan ahead for surprise expenses, including maintenance and any renovations you might want to make.