Purchasing your first home is one of life’s most significant milestones. It’s difficult, stressful and exciting all at the same time. It’s essential to go into the process with realistic expectations.

Buyers are often unaware of how much money to set aside for their new home. Many also want to meet a lengthy list of requirements, like a specific location and a certain number of bedrooms, which can alter prices significantly.

Here are a few ways you, as a real estate agent, can help your clients stick to a budget.

Be Supportive, but Honest

Real estate agents can make or break a buyer’s first homebuying experience. You’re the one that’s there to guide them and offer expertise when needed. Many people won’t know about the various rates, fees and costs that come with purchasing a property.

Make sure you educate your clients on what they’ll need to set aside money for. By helping them prepare in advance, they can stay on budget. Remind your clients that just because they have $250,000 to spend doesn’t mean they should.

Some buyers will go from paying a few hundred per month in rent to thousands in mortgage payments. Encourage them to run their numbers through a mortgage calculator and create a financial spreadsheet so they can estimate costs beforehand. This way, they won’t encounter any surprises.

Suggest a Remodel

Some homebuyers miss the forest for the trees. While it would be ideal to find a home that fits every need, cosmetic issues are much more fixable than location. If your clients get caught up on small details, remind them that their commute, neighborhood and local schools are far more permanent qualities in a potential home.

Buying a home requires a series of give-and-take decisions. Your expertise in the real estate industry can help homeowners get an idea of which renovations are feasible — it’s often better to save for upgrades in the future than to shell out for a property with all the bells and whistles.

Create a List of Must-Haves

Sometimes, you’ll encounter a first-time buyer that just wants a bigger condo or house. They don’t have requirements like a backyard, garage or brand-new kitchen. While this flexibility can be helpful, it can also make it challenging to find the ideal property for them.

Encourage your clients to create a list of must-haves. Sure, they’d prefer a ranch-style house over a two-story, but do they want brick or stucco siding? What about a deck or access to community amenities? This will narrow down your search and specify if what they need is in their current budget. If you begin to tour homes that are too expensive, your buyers will develop unrealistic expectations.

Keep Things Realistic

There may be times where you come across a house or two that’s perfect for your buyers, but out of their price range. If you think they should see these places, don’t mislead them. Be upfront about what the homes cost and see if they’re still interested.

You should always try your best to stick within their budget. That said, keep communication open with your clients just in case they want to revise their price limit. Also, be candid with them about what they can afford concerning their must-haves. If a bidding war presents itself, remind your buyers of their budget and consider if it’s worthwhile.

Point Buyers in the Right Direction

Your buyers likely won’t know where to begin with mortgages, inspections and other legal matters. If you can, direct them to the right professionals. This goes hand-in-hand with educating them on terminology and other necessary real estate knowledge. Doing so will make the process a smooth one overall. It will also save them money, as they won’t waste resources on the wrong people.

When the buying process is over, you will want to ensure a smooth closing. Be there to navigate this situation with your clients, as this is the first time they’ll have ever dealt with this. As always, make yourself available to answer any questions. Your buyers won’t know what happens during this process without your insight.

Seal the Deal and Stick to a Budget

When all is said and done, you’ll want to do everything possible to make your client’s first-time homebuying experience easy. Remain realistic, stay communicative and suggest solutions for any problems they have. Helping buyers remain within a budget is easier than you think if you follow these steps.