Owning a home is a major milestone many Americans expect to achieve in their lifetimes.

And while buying a house for the first time might be intimidating, no homeowner started the process feeling confident every step of the way. If you're a first-time buyer, here are a few things to keep in mind:

* Before you start looking at houses, make sure your finances are in order. The process of saving money and making financial decisions to ensure your credit history is as appealing to a lender as possible can take a couple of months.

* Examine your financial history and expected cash flow. If you're a first-time homebuyer, run a credit report on yourself– it's free to do once a year – an focus on the areas in which you can improve.

* Establish how much house you can afford.

Look at savings you can use toward a down payment, then determine how much you could afford each month for a mortgage payment, plus interest, taxes and insurance costs.

* After you've examined your financial history and anticipated cash flow, it's time to start talking to the professionals who will be able to help with the buying process.

If you're considering buying your first home in the new year, get tips from the experts at Old Worthington Library, 820 High St. On Jan. 19, a HER real-estate agent, a home inspector from Procheck Engineering and a Credit Union of Ohio financial specialist will open the doors to the world of homeownership and answer questions.

The panel discussion, "Buying Your First Home," starts at 2 p.m.

Hillary Kline is a communications specialist for Worthington Libraries.