If you have enough cash to make a 10 percent or 20 percent down payment, this could be your opportunity to buy at a fantastic price. You'll need a solid credit score of 720 or more to get the best rates. Start by browsing the real estate section of the Daily News, looking at homes in the best school districts (because those tend to hold their value) and visiting open houses. Be sure to pay your bills on time and whittle away any credit card balances.
If you're going to buy, be realistic. Try not to allow the price of owning the home— including mortgage payment, insurance, taxes, utilities and maintenance (which can cost 1 percent to 2 percent of the value of the property annually)—to exceed 35 percent of your take-home pay.