You’ve made the big decision to become a homeowner – congratulations! There are many steps to buy a house, and the process truly begins the second you decide you want to take the leap into ownership.
Here are some things you can start to do right away to set yourself up for a smoother transition into home ownership down the line.
Budget, budget, budget.
For starters you’ll want to set a clear budget that pertains to how much house you can afford. Take into account your annual income, monthly expenses, and what percentage of a down payment you want to put down. This will give you financial goals to shoot for.
Next, budget on a smaller level for your monthly expenses so you can determine how much money you are able to put towards savings each month.
Tally up your monthly income and deduct from it any routine expenses to see where your finances sit.
Cut unnecessary expenses.
If you are serious about saving for a home you’ll want to cut out frivolous expenses. This may be streaming service subscriptions, gym memberships, or a routine Friday night dinner out.
It may take some getting used to, but saving now will pay off in the long run.
Save for a down payment.
The larger the down payment you have for a purchase, the lower your monthly payment will be.
Down payments that are required by lenders typically run from 3.5 to 20 percent of the home purchase price.
Pay down your debt.
Add up your outstanding debt and make a plan to lower it. This will help with your debt-to-income ratio. Ideally, you should have a ratio of 36 percent or less to be more appealing to lenders.
Work on your credit score.
Your credit score is something else lenders look at when considering you for a loan. Most mortgages require a score of 620 or above.
You can improve your credit score by making payments on time and reducing the amount of debt you owe.
Don’t open any new cards or move debt around with things like balance transfers.
Research mortgage types.
There are several types of mortgages available from lenders. They vary in rate and duration, and some are designed for people with specific financial or living situations.
Take a thorough look at what types apply and appeal to you, then shop around for lenders. You don’t have to take the first one willing to give you a deal.
Be clear about your expectations.
Are there certain home features you simply cannot budge on, and others you can either take or leave.
When thinking of your dream home make a list of everything you absolutely must have in the home itself, as well as the neighborhood you live in and surrounding area.
Think of proximity to grocery stores, shopping areas, gas stations. If you have children, what are the school districts like? Is the crime rate low?
Doing your research and narrowing your search area will help once you begin actively looking.