That depends on your income and other financial obligations. Meeting with a lender and getting pre-approved will help you determine how much home you can afford.
Saving for the down payment is the greatest obstacle for first-time homebuyers. Lenders typically expect between 5% to 20% for a down payment. It varies according to the lender’s requirements and the type and length of the loan. Make a budget, set a goal, and stick with the plan. Saving and sacrificing is how most people come up with their first down payment.
While there's no crystal ball on whether a certain home is a bargain and if it will appreciate, rest assured that with research you can keep surprises to a minimum. The best way is to check out comparable homes, what similar properties are selling for in the area and whether those prices have been going up or down recently.
Pre-qualification: Getting pre-qualified for a mortgage gives first-time homebuyers an indication of how much they “might” qualify to borrow. This mortgage amount is not guaranteed because the lender has not verified your information. A letter from the lender only states that you are “likely” to be approved for a mortgage.
Pre-approved: Getting pre-approved is a more in-depth process than pre-qualification. It is based on a buyer’s credit score and additional verified financial information (e.g. pay stubs, tax returns, etc.). A pre-approval is a much stronger confirmation of a buyer’s ability to purchase for the seller, especially in a competitive market.
A home inspector takes a weight off your shoulders by looking into the condition of the roof, electricity, heating and air, plumbing, etc. Ensuring these things work prevents you from paying to fix them in the future. If some things are not up to par, you can negotiate with the seller to get those fixed before you sign the paperwork.
While buyers can always back out of a deal, often without paying a dime, doing so without good reason may forfeit their earnest money (the cash put down to secure the offer).
Third Party Estimates such as Zestimates may be entertaining, however, they routinely trend about 6% higher than our current market.