4. Search and buy within your means
This bit of advice is always true, but if the housing crisis has taught us anything, it's that buying with the expectation that prices will continuously go up — and that if you can eke out the payments each month, you'll be in a good spot in the long run — isn't such a good idea.
"Buyers can start looking too high and have a pie-in-the-sky idea of what they can afford," says Meller. Start looking at properties you can honestly afford, she advises. If you're very lucky, things could change: A parent could decide to help out, for instance. If you buy at the very top of your price range, Meller adds, "it's hard to make it all feel right in the end."