You sound like a perfect 1st Time Homebuyer. I specialize in helping people like you and know of many great programs to help you out (which include city, county and state programs, a much overlooked Federal Tax benefit administered by the county, and non-profit Down Payment Assistance programs). Of course, everything should be geared around a comfortable purchase price and payments that will not make you sweat each month as you write the check. Often lenders will push for the most purchasing power (or in other words the highest loan amount they can qualifty you for) and not take into consideration your lifestyle and personal comfort. That is why it helps to work with a realtor who specializes in helping 1st Time Homebuyers. They should help you look at all the costs of home ownership and make sure you do not overextend yourself. Once you have gone through the process of finding out how much home fits your needs, then it is time to find a great home, in an area that you like and negotiate the best price for you.
If you would like referrals to lenders who specialize in helping 1st Time Homebuyers, or more information about the various assistance programs out there, please do not hesitate to contact me directly.
Wishing you much success in becoming a 1st Time Homeowner and Dare to Dream.
Real Estate Consultant
RE/MAX Palos Verdes Realty