Buying your first home can be intimidating, and our real estate agents are happy to help you navigate the process. But some things deserve your attention before you consult with them to ensure your readiness to buy. Here are a few important steps that will help you shop with confidence.
- Don't Ignore Your Credit Score
Many people operate under some serious misunderstandings about how credit scores are calculated. They have no idea what their score is and how much it affects their loan opportunities. You have more control over that number than you think. You can run your credit report once each year free of charge at Annual Credit Report.com.
Order one, not all three, and review it for items that don't belong there or could damage your credit. Follow instructions to request inappropriate items to be removed. If it's removed from one agency, it will be removed from all three. Don't settle an old debt; pay it. Settling means you will have a negative note on your credit report for seven years. Paying will mean an immediate improvement to your score.
When you resolve every issue within your control, wait a few weeks and run a report from another agency to see if they have been removed. These reports will not affect your credit and will not give you your score. Fortunately, most credit card companies and many banks offer that for free.
- Don't Make Major Purchases on Credit
That great deal you were offered on a new car could sink your ability to buy a home. Your credit score is largely based on the percentage of available credit you're using. So, pay off your credit cards and eliminate as much debt as possible before you buy a house.
- Don't Ignore Your Budget
A budget isn't just cutting as many expenditures as you can to save money, although that is a good habit. A budget is your roadmap to financial success; few people know how to create one. But free help is available. HUD works with a network of housing counseling agencies that will help you prepare for the home-buying process, including helping you establish a budget. Be aware that you might qualify for a mortgage that is too much for you to maintain. Know how much you can afford before you start house hunting.
- Don't Ignore First-Time Homebuyer Programs
In that same counseling session, you'll receive information about programs available in your area that assist with the down payment. These programs may be offered by federal, state, or local governments.
- Don't Change Jobs
Lenders would like to see borrowers have a solid job history of at least two years. If you have the opportunity for a huge increase in income by accepting a better job offer, that is easily explained to a lender. But if you switch jobs for something comparable to your current position, you paint a picture of instability.
- Don't Skip Mortgage Preapproval
Following the steps above, you're far better off than many first-time buyers. You are ready to take the final step of meeting with a lender. You will fill out application forms and present paperwork to support your financial claims, such as tax records, pay stubs, bank statements, identification, and divorce decrees.
These steps may seem like a lot of work, but once you've taken them, you can shop for a house armed with the knowledge that you're prepared for homeownership. There are plenty of Wichita homes for sale, so contact us, and let's go shopping!