Home Buying Checklist: 8 Things to Do Before You Buy
So, you’re thinking about buying a house? How exciting! Before you start searching for homes, it’s important to do your homework, spend time researching your options and set clear goals upfront. Start your house hunt on the right foot by using this home buying checklist as a guide.
- Check your credit: Your credit score has a significant impact on your ability to qualify for a mortgage loan and even determines what your interest rate will be. Before you start working with a mortgage lender, check your credit report for any errors that need to be disputed. You can get a free copy of your credit report at AnnualCreditReport.com. While most mortgage lenders require a credit score of at least 620, the higher your credit score is, the lower your interest rate will be. Whether your credit score is 620 or 720, follow these tips to boost your score before you buy.
- Get your financial house in order: When you apply for a mortgage, there are several financial factors the lender will evaluate. The best thing you can do is paint a picture of financial stability. If you’re planning on buying a home within the next year, it’s in your best interest to get smart on the financial factors that will be considered during application. Start by gathering all of the documents needed for pre-approval.
- Determine what you can reasonably afford: Before you start searching for homes, it’s important to consider the costs associated with homeownership. Not only will you want to assess how much your monthly mortgage payment will be, you’ll also want to budget for any maintenance and/or upgrades, as well as utilities.
- Start saving for a down payment: Whether you’re looking to buy right now or a couple years down the road, it’s never too early to start saving for a down payment. Set a budget based on your current income and expenses to identify areas in which you can save a little extra money each month. You may be surprised to find out you already have the money for a down payment—it just might be hiding. These days, there are several loan programs that require little to no money down.
- Find a mortgage lender: It’s never too early to start building a relationship with a loan officer who can help you prepare for the mortgage process. The key to navigating the mortgage process with ease is finding a lender who will be attentive to your needs and help you choose a mortgage that fits within your overall financial plan. By doing a little research ahead of time, you’ll be able to find a lending partner that can meet your expectations and provide you with the financial support you need.
- Get pre-approved: Before you start searching for homes, you’ll want to make sure you get pre-approved for a mortgage loan. By providing lenders with the documentation necessary for pre-approval, they’ll be able to help you determine how much you’re eligible to borrow. When you know how much you’re eligible to borrow and what price range you’re looking to stay within, your real estate agent will be better prepared to help you find homes that contain the features you want and fit within your budget. It will also give you more leverage with sellers when it comes time to make an offer.
- Start your home search: Before you start your home search, you’ll want to find a real estate agent that will effectively represent your needs and work with you to find a house that meets your standards. Start by asking your friends and family, or even your mortgage lender, for referrals. And, don’t forget to consider these factors as you’re house hunting.
- Evaluate your loan options: There’s more to choosing a mortgage than deciding between a fixed or adjustable-rate mortgage and getting a 15-year or 30-year loan. There are many different types of mortgage loans Be sure to evaluate all of your options and talk to your loan officer about the advantages and drawbacks of each.
Whether you plan on buying a house this summer, or a few years down the road, there’s no such thing as being too prepared. When you consider how much time you’ve spent imagining what your dream home looks like, it’s equally important to spend just as much time planning for the purchase of a lifetime.
Have questions about getting started? Leave a comment below or send us a message. We’d be happy to help you take the next step in your home buying journey.