While most home buyers want to get the most house they can afford, it is crucial to afford the home they buy. (Photo: Maryna Konoplytska/Dreamstime.com/TNS).

Q: We are buying our first home and will need to use most of our savings for the down payment and furniture. We cannot afford to make any major repairs for the first couple of years. How can we protect ourselves? –Shelley

A: While I can understand wanting to get the most house you can afford, it is crucial to afford the home you buy.

Many people will count on getting a raise or create other justifications why they should borrow the maximum amount that their lender will allow. You will eventually get a raise or even a better job, but your taxes and insurance will also increase. And even new appliances eventually need to be replaced.

Most lenders will require savings equivalent to one or two monthly housing payments, including taxes and insurance. This is not enough. Make sure that you have three to six months in the bank. This way, if you have a temporary setback at work or need to replace your water heater, you deal with an inconvenience rather than a catastrophe.

It is crucial to get a detailed home inspection when purchasing your new home.

Like all professionals, inspectors’ skill levels vary, so shop around and ask questions about the process. For an average-size house, the inspection should take about three hours, and the report should be very detailed.

Attend the inspection. Review your inspection report and speak to your inspector about the results.

Every home will have issues, but any serious concerns will necessitate a follow-up inspection by an appropriate contractor.

For example, if the report points out possible roof issues, you need to hire a licensed roofer to check it out thoroughly.

It is easy to get caught up with the excitement of buying your new house, but you need to keep your feet to the ground to make sure your dream home does not turn out to be a nightmare.

By Gary M. Singer, South Florida Sun Sentinel (TNS). Gary M. Singer is an attorney and board-certified as an expert in real estate law by the Florida Bar. He practices real estate, business litigation and contract law from his office in Sunrise, Fla. He frequently consults on general real estate matters and trends in Florida with various companies across the nation. Send him questions online at sunsentinel.com/askpro or follow him on Twitter at GarySingerLaw.