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What to know before shopping for a home

If low interest rates have you pondering purchasing your first home, it’s time to get serious. Shopping for a house is fun, but there’s a lot of ground work to be done first. Here are a few things to know before buying your first home.

Credit Check

Check your credit score through your financial insitution. Then, check your credit report as well. If you find errors on your report, report them right away. Then dedicate yourself to improving your score, no matter what it is currently. You can do this by paying down debts and making timely bill payments.

Save Up

Make sure you have saved enough for a 20 percent down payment on a house. That way you don’t have to pay for private mortgage insurance and your monthly mortgage payment will be lower.

Know Your Limit

Go through the last three months of your budget. Get as deep into the numbers as possible to see where your money is going, and exactly how much money you can afford to spend per month on a house. Keep in mind that your mortgage is only just part of your monthly payments. You’ll also be paying for utilities, property taxes, insurance, general upkeep and more.

Get Pre-Approved

Visit a few lenders and find the best offer available (and note: credit unions and community banks often offer lower-than-average rates on all types of loans including mortgages). Once you do, get pre-approved for a mortgage. As Forbes notes, this way you’ll know your price range before you even start searching for a home. You’ll also have a leg-up on other potential buyers. When you do start shopping for a home, try to be patient. There will always be more houses. Wait for one that you like and can safely afford.

Chris O'Shea