Many first-time home buyers fail to save enough money. They forget that they need to cover closing costs, not just the down payment. (Ted Shaffrey/AP)

Now is a good time for first-time house hunters to prepare for the spring homebuying season.

If you’re a novice to the market, you might want to hear from experts on the biggest mistakes first-time home buyers make. According to Corey Burr, a senior vice president at TTR Sotheby’s International Realty in Chevy Chase, Md., here are four mistakes you’ll want to avoid:

1. Not contacting a lender until you’ve found the property of your dreams: Without contacting a lender in advance of shopping, buyers don’t know the range of loan programs available, the down payment requirements, the terms of varying loan programs, the payment of private mortgage insurance (or not) and the timing involved in acquiring a loan. To avoid this mistake, consult several lenders to learn more about loan programs and your qualifications and get preapproved so that there is certainty about the price range you can afford.

2. Being clueless about the amount of money needed to buy a property: Many first-time home buyers forget that they need to cover closing costs, not just the down payment. Closing costs typically add 2 to 4 percent of the sales price to the total upfront cost of a purchase.

3. Buying a house that’s too expensive: Many first-time buyers fall in love with a property and decide to buy — even if it’s a stretch financially. Sure, they might qualify for the mortgage, but if they then become house-poor from the mortgage payment, property taxes, home insurance and upkeep, it can lead to a serious lifestyle bind.

4. Not saving enough money before the purchase: Being able to afford the down payment and monthly mortgage payment is one thing; unanticipated big repairs — a leaky roof, broken furnace, etc. — inevitably happen. Many first-time buyers haven’t budgeted for any additional home maintenance costs.