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Welcome to Part 1 of the 2 part series! Buying a new house is exciting, fun and sometimes frightening all at the same time! If this will be your first rodeo, there are somethings that you just want to make sure that you get right from the beginning. If the thought of buying a new home has crossed your mind, take a step back and analyze every detail to make sure that you’re not caught by surprise with different things that may come up later. Sometimes when we buy a new home, we spend a lot of time focusing on the mortgage payment and whether or not that’s affordable that we don’t think about the several other things that need to be paid along with the mortgage. Can we afford all of the other expenses AND the mortgage? What does your credit score look like and is it good enough? There are many different ways to approach a new home purchase, so where should you truly begin?

How to Prepare When You're Buying A New Home

#1: Pay Off Debt

Paying off existing debt is most important. I know this can seem like a super daunting task, but you’ll definitely thank me later. Going into a new home purchase with the least amount of debt possible is the best way since you’ll have to work through those new expenses, plus it looks really good to lenders. Those lenders are not trying to loan you a lot of money for a home purchase when their internal flags are all going up when they see the debt that you already have. When I purchased my most recent home, I worked through paying off all credit card debt. The only bills that remained are those ones that never go away, such as a cell phone bill, insurance, and student loans. I don’t know about yall, but that student loan debt for me may never go away, ha. It’s ridiculous, but that’s a story for another day! Back to the topic at hand… So, in an effort to pay down my debt as much as possible, I even worked to pay off my car before the closing date. While paying off all debt isn’t always possible, paying it down as much as possible will only be beneficial to you! Not to mention, it’ll also help improve your credit score. We all know you can get almost anything you want with good credit, so if your credit is not up to par, paying down debt is even more helpful for you.

#2: Save a Down Payment

Now that you’ve worked to get rid of your debt, you’ll have to work towards saving for a down payment! It’s important to save a hefty down payment because even if this is your first home and you qualify for first time homebuyers loans, they are usually awful in the long run. When something sounds too good to be true, it usually is! Evaluate your salary (and spouse’s salary if you have one) and see what home price range works for your budget. Once you have price range in mind you can use that to factor in how much of a down payment you need based on that. If you’re still unsure, you could always reach out to a professional and do some research to get a clearer understanding of exactly how much of a down payment you need.

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#3: Do Your Research, Meet a Realtor & Explore New Properties

Doing research is VERY important! The market is something that goes up and down, changing very often. You want to make sure you are very aware of what’s going on with the market around the time you purchase your new home. Researching your realtor to make sure you’re choosing the right one is imperative since they will have access to your personal information including finances, salary, etc. You don’t want a realtor that is just trying to get the sale, but one that has your best interest because you don’t want to be put in a situation where you end up “house broke” because you have just enough money to pay your bills, but no money to do anything else. Finding the right realtor is important, so if you have to search through several, that’s okay.

Visiting several homes during your search is also very important. You want to get an idea of what you like and what you don’t like, so touring a few homes will be helpful in making that decision. Sometimes we don’t realize how much we don’t like something, until we see it or use it. Trust me when I say it’s better to notice that BEFORE you buy, rather than after. Just like there is the possibility of having to search through several realtors, you may have to look at several homes to find the right one. That’s okay too! Don’t let the pressure of the process have you choose a home you aren’t in love with.

Another thing that you should look into researching is insurance options. When I bought my home, I had to research this one a lot. I looked at several options and some you may not even realize are out there. Some car insurances offer homeowner’s insurance. That can be a nice option for someone that doesn’t want to tie that insurance payment into the mortgage payment, so shop around and figure out what options work for you.

#4: Get Pre-Approved!

The last step is getting pre-approved for a loan so that you can set everything in motion. Once you have been pre-approved, the ball starts rolling. During this step you really start seeing the light as things start to come together!

You’re almost there! No one ever said buying a home would be easy, but it’ll definitely be worth it!

Have you bought your house? Check out Part 2 of this series titled “5 Things You Should Do After You Buy A House!”

RELATED: Part 2 of 2: 5 Things You Should Do After You Buy A House
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