Buying a home for the first time can be a thrilling and scary experience. There is quite a bit to it, from figuring out what you can afford and what is available to securing financing and understanding the paperwork.
At times during the process you may feel like renting forever would be easier than trying to buy. But it is worth trying if you want what home ownership can bring, which is a sense of personal stability and investment in your future. Before you launch, review this checklist of considerations.
The Road Home
- Scrutiny Ahead: Even if you don’t plan to borrow excessively and know you can handle debt responsibly, you must be prepared to explain your financial life to a mortgage broker. Do you have steady employment? Have you been steadily employed for some time? If there are gaps or your earnings are erratic, you may still be able to borrow but you definitely need to prepare for scrutiny. Get an understanding of how your life looks on paper and what aspects of it make you seem more or less financially reliable. Address these.
- Know Your Range: Apart from being able to explain your financial story to someone else, you should have a strong personal sense of what you can realistically afford. First understand your range, then look for a place that fits. There is no sense falling in love with a home that will be a financial albatross and no point going through the difficult process of trying to borrow money if you are just aiming outside of your range.
- Credit Review: Again, before you begin seeking to borrow money, know where you stand with your credit. Order your credit reports from multiple agencies, as the scores may vary between them. If your credit is good, great! You may well be able to borrow money despite some unsteady employment or other hiccups. If it isn’t, start repairing it now, before you launch into home buying. Give yourself a year to pay everything on time and establish a record of responsibility and your options for borrowing might be better than you thought. And if something seems incorrect on a credit report, do work on correcting the reports.