Regardless of whether you are a first-time home buyer or an experienced owner, it’s good practice to conduct a pre-purchase reality check before buying a house. Before you jump into the financial commitment of the purchase, give careful consideration to your financial situation and whether you are truly prepared to buy.
Here is a six-item checklist of items to check off before buying a home:
• Strengthen your credit score. In general, the higher your credit score, the lower your down payment and monthly payments, which impact your buying power.
• Get pre-approved for a mortgage. If you’re truly serious, do your research on rates and have your financing in place before you walk through the first house to know how much you can afford, and to make a stronger offer.
• Have your financial house in order. Beyond what your credit looks like, don’t change jobs, change banks, buy a vehicle or any big-ticket items. Avoid inquiries into your credit, don’t be late on payments and don’t charge excessively.
• Save for a down payment and closing costs. The national average for down payments nationwide is 16 percent, according to LendingTree. Also know the average closing costs in your area.
• Build a healthy emergency fund. Have several months worth of mortgage payments set aside, so lenders can see you’re not check-to-check, making you a better loan candidate. Plus, repair issues and home emergencies always come up.
• Control your debt and know how much you can afford. Gain control of the debt you already have, starting with high-interest debt. Know how much payments you can afford, with a safe formula that expenses should not exceed 28-31 percent of your gross monthly income.