Before you think about affordability, location, etc., one question is, "Should I rent or buy?' Have your agent sit down with you and analyze the cost of renting vs. buying in your location, your short and long term goals, and the risks vs. benefits of each.
Buying is not always the best option in every situation. Especially in a volatile market, if the odds are that you will have to sell in less than 3 years, and you do not want to suffer a loss of equity, you may want to hold off. The cost of selling is about 6-7% of value, so in order to break even, you need at least that much appreciation. In this market, no one can guarantee you that margin.
Please be sure to consider the tax ramifications before you buy. Talk to your accountant. Also, as said below, get a full pre-approval (not pre-qualification) from your lender prior to considering your purchase.
Then, the main issue to consider is location. Do your homework. Research the areas you are considering for crime statistics, quality of schools (even if you won't be using them, they are important in resale) and availability of transportation, shopping and recreation. You can change the qualities of anything you buy, but not it's location.
Best of luck,
The Bremner Group at Coldwell Banker
REALTOR, 00588885, ABR, CDPE, eAgent, CSP, SFR, HRC, CRE
(O) 310-571-1364 DIRECT
(D) (310) 800-2954
Accredited Buyer Representative|Certified Distressed Property Expert |Pre-Foreclosure Specialist Certified