Your reasons for buying a home determine the steps and strategies you should follow. Thinkstock By the editors of Kiplinger's Personal Finance Updated January 2015 It's no wonder that psychologists rank buying a home high on the list of stress-producing events. Not only is it the biggest purchase most people make in a lifetime, but also it forces a wholesale examination of goals, commitments and lifestyle. Market conditions -- including too many or too few homes to look at, rising or falling prices and competitive bidding for the nicest homes -- can make you wonder if you'll ever find the right house at the right price.Take Our Quiz: How Smart of a Home Buyer Are You? People buy homes for lots of different reasons, and the steps and strategies they should follow will vary accordingly. To get started in this buyer's guide, select the option that best describes your situation: First-Time Buyer If you're starting from ground zero, there's a lot to think about. Are you really ready to buy? Here are the risks and rewards to consider. Moving Up Your family and income have grown and it's time to trade up. If you fall into this category, the big question is: Should you buy first or sell first? Downsizing The kids are gone and its time to exchange your large family home for something smaller.