Steps to Take Before Buying a Home

Buying a home can be a stressful process, especially if it’s your first time. But there are several things you should consider beforehand to make sure you know what you’re getting into. If you come up with a solid plan, you won’t be as nervous when it comes time to make an offer.

The first thing you should do is check your credit score. If your credit score is below 620, private loans may be more difficult to acquire or come with high interest rates. Having poor credit may not be a good thing, but at least by knowing your credit score, you know you’ll be looking at a government-backed loan. If your credit score is good, you’ll have more options.

Examine your long-term budget closely. Keep records of income and expenses, and gather together your financial documents, such as pay stubs and tax returns. Not only will this help you personally understand your budget, some of these documents are used by lenders for prequalification or preapproval. Prequalifications estimate your ability to pay to give a solid idea of what range of prices you can probably afford. Preapproval is the next step, after you’re more sure of an area and timeframe in which you want to buy. Once you know what your options are, you need to research all of them. If you can, go to multiple lenders and shop around for the best interest rates. Be sure to ask questions.

Even if you get a preapproval, that doesn’t mean you can immediately breathe a sigh of relief. Preapproval is based on your current levels of income and expenditure. Lenders will be consistently re-checking these until the loan closes. If you make any sudden financial moves, they will know, and your credit score will suffer. Not to mention you may not actually be able to afford the house you plan to buy if you suddenly lose your income due to quitting your job, or drop a bunch of money on new furniture. If you are considering something major, call your lender and discuss it with them, before you decide to do it.

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