Getting ready to buy a house? Before you head out on your first home tour with your agent, arm yourself with the following advice.
1. Double check your credit
If you're thinking about buying, you should already be "keeping score." Know your credit score, and make sure to rectify any credit reporting errors before lenders take a look. Read more in 4 Ways to Set Yourself Up for Success.
2. Understand the added cost of certain features
As you make your list of "must-have" home features, be sure you consider the added expenses that may come with them. Your math should include things like the cost of landscaping maintenance for extra acreage and energy costs that come with added square footage. Read more in 3 Home Features That May Not Be Worth the Work (or Expense).
3. Discover where your dollars go
Get up close and personal with your monthly budget and track every single thing you purchase over 30 days. Review your credit card and bank statements to categorize where you spent each dollar (e.g., entertainment, food, clothing). Several online sites and software programs can help you track and categorize spending. This will help you identify where you can cut back to put more money toward a monthly mortgage payment. Read more in 6 Budgeting Tips to Help You Save for a Down Payment.
4. Research mortgage options
You don't always need to invest a 20 percent down payment. Explore your options, like a Conventional 97 from Fannie Mae. Just 3 percent down is enough to help you qualify for this program, as long as it's for a fixed-rate mortgage on a single-family home for under $417,000. Read more in First-time homebuyers: You're closer to a down payment than you think.
If you're ready to buy a home, an experienced agent can help you calculate how much house you can afford, then find a home you'll love within your budget. Find an agent to work with here.