If you’re buying your first home, don’t get lost in a long checklist. Here are five things to consider before you sign on the dotted line.
- Budget — Obviously budget is important. You shouldn’t be looking at houses out of your price range. So sit down and figure out how buying a new home will fit into your budget. You shouldn’t spend more than 30 percent of your income on buying a house.
- Mortgage planning — You will be at a better place, bargaining wise, if you find a lender and get pre-approved for a mortgage.
- Credit — This is a big one. Take a close look at your credit report to see if there are any mistakes. You don’t want your credit to be unjustly penalized and, in turn, hurt your home buying experience. A bad credit score or a below-average down payment can make the process harder than it has to be.
- Organize — You shouldn’t just be organizing all your belongings for a move. Before that you should be organizing all your important documents. So find all your old pay stubs, W-2s, tax returns and bank statements for the past couple of years. This will make it much easier if you already have this stuff together. You should also gather your statements from current loans. If you’ve had a landlord within the past two years, collect their contact info, too. The more prepared you are, the better.
- Think ahead — Do you have young children or are you thinking about having kids in the future? It’s important to consider the area you want to live in, the school systems and what the potential for growth is. You’re buying a house to turn into a home—a place where you and your family can spend the foreseeable future. Don’t just think short-term.