Looking to sell your Home? Get a FREE home value reportLooking to buy a Home? Search all homes for saleBuying your first home can be an incredibly exciting time.However, it also requires a huge commitment and investment, and can have repercussions in your life for years to come.That’s why I want to share my three top tips to help first-time homebuyers protect themselves during this crucial period:1. Know what you can affordThe fact is, your mortgage is only a part of what you will need to pay when you buy a home.Homeownership comes with other expenses as well, including closing costs, taxes, property insurance, maintenance costs, and homeowner association fees. Once you have a clear idea of all of these items, you can compare this to your stable income and your current monthly expenses.This way, you can figure out the kind of home you can honestly afford, without getting carried away, and without getting bogged down in debt.2. Choose your lender wiselyChoosing a lender is not something you should base only on the lowest rate.A competent and trustworthy lender will offer you advice on how to improve your credit.The right lender will also help you take advantage of special homebuyer programs that might benefit you.And ideally, your lender will work with you to get pre-approval for your loan. This can strengthen your offer immensely, particularly in hot markets like the one we're seeing around Temeculah.So how do you find the right lender specifically for you?While it can be a good idea to start shopping online, it's often best to get recommendations from friends who have already worked with a lender, or from a real estate agent you trust.3. Don't overlook the detailsThere are many details that go into buying a home, and missing any of them can be a costly mistake.For example, I always advise buyers to get a professional inspection (this is separate from an appraisal, which the seller is likely to get).Yes, an inspection will set you back about $300, but it can save you thousands of dollars down the line, and it can even prevent you from making a decision to buy a home that you would later regret.A second example is understanding the fine print in the various contracts you will be signing.If there's anything that isn't clear to you, talk to your real estate agent and have it spelled out.Trust me — there are no dumb questions. The process of buying a home can be intimidating, and that's why professional real estate agents are there to help.These three quick tips are only the start of the things you need to watch out for when buying your first home.