Educating yourself on homeownership is a smart place to start. You might find some other 'chats' here that give you insight, as well as talking to an accountant, and speaking with a lender. These will all give you more information to help you get started. What you need to first discover is your 'buying power' to shop for a home.
There are three things needed to qualify to buy a home, in most cases. They include your income, your credit score and your downpayment money. A lender will qualify you based on your debt to income ratio which is reflected by debt shown on your credit report in comparison to your gross income (before taxes).
Most financing currently requires 3% brought in by the buyer against that loan of the property. That number is going to 3 1/2% for the FHA financed loans in January. That seems, at first glance, to be your restriction in 'buying power' for a home, but with further discussions with a lender they can possibly find other ways to fund that 3 1/2% . For example, in certain areas, there's still first time home buyer assistance programs that will help you with the downpayment required. They may find ways to help you stretch that $5,000 to qualify for a home more to your preferences.
An accountant will be able to describe the tax benefits of home ownership, which Erin described here. With the tax benefits, you actually will be able to build wealth through your home ownership over time.
Last, when you have a good idea of your qualifications to buy a home. you need to select a realtor who can help you buy the home that best matches your lifestyle and affordability. You can speak to any of us here directly and get a good insight of what we can offer you in terms of our services. In addition, I would suggest you sign on to our website where you can get up to the minute homes that you can peruse, save, reject, and learn the market values for the area you're interested in.
Once you get that far, where you know your buying power, are prequalified, understand what type of home you want, the realtor can guide you through the rest of the process to secure the home of your dreams.
Good luck to you and happy dreaming!