Around here, I’ve developed a bit of a reputation. As “Rachel the Renter” I entertain my co-workers (and you!) with a variety of renting anecdotes and horror stories. But the truth is, I do want to eventually break up with my landlord and explore a monogamous relationship with a mortgage broker. I know “Rachel the First-Time Homeowner” doesn’t have the same alliterative ring, but I’m sure we’ll all survive.

Thing is, there’s lots more at stake than just a change in status from renter to homeowner. Like so many (if not all!) first-time home buyers, I have no earthly idea what I’m doing. Sure, I can read up on all the buying and finance advice we offer here at realtor.com®. Of course, I can consult with my real estate agent and my mortgage broker. But if there’s one thing I keep hearing from those who’ve forged the path ahead of me, it’s that when you buy a home for the first time, you’re constantly faced with things you didn’t know you didn’t know.

So, before I embark, I thought I’d minimize some of those surprises and take advantage of my home-owning co-workers’ experience. They shared these personal anecdotes of surprises they encountered on the road to homeownership. I hope this will help prepare you—and me—for what lies ahead:

Mortgage meltdown

“I thought our mortgage loan was approved and ready to go, but at the last minute the originating bank balked at the purchase price of our home—they thought it was too high. This was in 2008 in Silicon Valley—we thought we were getting a bargain! The bank was based somewhere in the Midwest, though. They assigned an assessor to come check it out, but fortunately the assessment supported our purchase price. It was a suspenseful few days, though.” —Cicely Wedgeworth, senior editor.

Takeaway: Don’t count on your mortgage until it’s signed. And make sure you double-check your property assessment.

Count your costs

“I might have experienced short-term memory loss during my loan approval process. All the closing costs were a mystery to me, and my loan officer or Realtor had to explain each expense every single time I saw them in updated loan docs.” —Oie Lian Yeh, copy editor

Takeaway: Go over the closing costs with your real estate agent and take notes on what to expect. You’ll see these costs itemized again and again, so best to get familiar fast.

Budget time and money for repairs