Purchasing your first home can be a major accomplishment and a reason to celebrate! The process can also be intimidating and stressful for many buyers. Much thought and time goes into purchasing a home, and is often a life changing decision. We know how exciting it can be to take the next steps and call yourself a homeowner, but before you make the leap, here are 9 things to do to prepare for buying your first home.
- Check your Credit Score – Know your credit score before looking at mortgages. Lenders will look at this number to help determine your credit worthiness and interest rate. A high credit score can mean a lower interest rate and more favorable terms.
- Know your budget – Create a budget to know what you can afford. There are a number of online calculators to help you find your budget, like this one from Zillow. Remember that more than just the price of the home factors into what the budget needs to include.
- Find a mortgage lender – Start with a mortgage originator to find out if you quality for a mortgage and how much can be lent to you. There are many lenders, so shop around to find the best fit for you.
- Plan a down payment – Lenders often require anywhere from 5% to 20% as a down payment. A larger down payment can help you secure the best rates and decrease your monthly payments.
- Make a must-have list – Each home is different. From the layout to the finishes, there many options available when searching for your next home. Create a must-have list and decide which features are most important to you. This list will save you time and can help determine your budget.
- Create a Pinterest board - Let yourself dream a little here. Start to think about the look that you want in a future home. You may not be able to get this unless you do a new build, but it will give you ideas of what you like and should look for.
- Browse online listings – Shop for homes anywhere you are. New homes are listed daily and the best ones often sell fast. Look often to know what homes are available that could be yours.
- Visit open houses – There is no better way to know what you want than by visiting an open house. You may think you prefer an open concept floor plan, but that could change after seeing the layout in person. Use open houses as a way to decide what features you really want as well as to check out potential homes.
- See the neighborhood – We think you should love where you live, which means you should check out the neighborhood surrounding a home. Know what other homes are selling for and be sure to look for any amenities your family may want. This could include close proximity to a park or schools or easy accessibility to shopping or entertainment.