The weather is warming up and flowers are blooming, which makes it prime house-hunting weather. However, before you set out, make sure you have a good foundation for your home search with a financial plan, budget, and strategy to get your home's financing. The following are some tips to help you in your upcoming home purchase.
Analyze Your Budget
A first step to buying a home is to determine how much you can actually afford for a new mortgage payment. Make a list of all your expenses and financial obligations along with the monthly income of your take-home pay after taxes and other deductions were taken out of your pay.
You can look at your rental expense now as a baseline guide to help you decide how much you want to commit to a monthly mortgage payment. Also look at utility costs and homeowners insurance for your new home, as these can put additional costs into your budget. Knowing how much your monthly budget is will help you establish a limit to your home search price.
Shop For Financing
As you calculate your home buying budget, you also need to consider your ability to actually secure the financing for your home. This step can be very important in the home buying process because the type of financing and its cost can affect your home buying budget. For example, if you get a loan at an adjustable rate or a fixed rate that is higher than you would prefer, your interest costs and monthly payment are going to be higher as a result.
One of the big determining factors in your ability to get the best financing is the condition of your credit. Your income is a fixed amount but your credit can be improved upon. Take a look at your credit report and score several months to a year before you start shopping for a home because if there are problems on your report or you have too much unsecured debt, you will need time to correct the problems and pay down the unsecured debt. If you have a real estate agent, they may be able to look at your debt situation and recommend tips to pay it down. You can also talk with a mortgage broker about recommendations to increase your credit score, such as which loans you should work on paying down or off completely.
Keep in mind it may hurt your credit instead of helping it if you close out all your credit card accounts as you pay them off. Your credit score is based on your ability to manage your credit and how well you handle the credit you have. So, be sure to keep some cards and accounts open and use them to show you can use and pay off your debt responsibly.