10 Must-Do Steps to Prepare to Buy a House

Dated: 12/18/2018

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Want to know how to prepare to buy a house? If you think this will be the year to put your rental days in your rear-view mirror and move into a home of your own, it’s time to start planning now. Even if you won’t be ready to buy for six more months or even a year, here are 10 straightforward steps to take today. Crossing these items off your list will make it easier for you to find and finance the home of your dreams.

1. Check your credit

good credit score is essential to buying a home, since it proves you've got a good track record paying off past debts (such as your credit card bills and college loans). A higher credit score makes it easier to qualify for the lowest interest rates, which in turn make your purchase more affordable.

To find your credit report, go to annualcreditreport.com and request a free copy from all three credit reporting bureaus: TransUnion, Equifax and Experian. For a small fee, you can also get your credit score. These reports should also indicate what you can do to improve your credit.

2. Start saving

You’ll need cash reserves to buy a home, and you’ll need to prove to a lender that you can afford housing payments that may be higher than what you're currently paying in rent. In other words, start saving now!

3. Earn extra cash

If you’re low on cash, as most first-time buyers are, consider taking drastic steps to cut spending. Or try out some ways to increase your income, such as selling some of your stuff or taking a part-time job.

4. Consult a lender

The sooner you visit a lender, the faster you’ll know where you stand on getting a mortgage, and the steps you need to take to improve your situation.

5. Investigate down payment assistance programsTop of Form

 It pays to explore down payment assistance programs you don't have to be destitute to qualify.

A lender can give you an idea of how much house you can afford, but you have to create a personal budget to decide how much you will be comfortable spending on your mortgage payment.

7. Attend a seminar or take classes on buying a home

Want to learn more? Lenders and agents often offer free seminars that explain the home-buying process. Many local government and nonprofit agencies also offer classes that can help you prepare for the financial responsibility of owning a home.

8. Start looking at neighborhoods

Unless you already know where you want to live, take the time to visit a variety of potential neighborhoods. You'll want to scout out 'hoods that meet your needs in terms of transportation options and other amenities. Exploring different locations will help you narrow your priorities.

9. Visit open houses

Going to open houses early in your search will let you see what’s available in your area that might fit your budget. You can then begin to see what matters most in your decision: the location, room to entertain or outdoor space.  If you have an agent, let the open house agents know that.  If you like the house, don’t discuss with the listing agents, call someone to represent you; remember they are representing the seller!

10. Interview real estate agents

At each open house you’ll meet a real estate agent who represents the seller of the home. As long as you don’t plan to make an offer on that particular home, there’s nothing wrong with striking up a conversation with the agent regarding your plans for buying a home.

As published on Realtor.com

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Teresa Schwartzman

Teresa is an accomplished Real Estate customer service specialist. She has over 40 years of customer service experience with several Fortune 500 Companies in the food and beverage industry that she br....

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