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2018 is here, and you’ve decided: this is the year you’re going to purchase a new home. Whether you’re a first-time buyer or a move-up buyer, the sooner you start preparing, the better. By following these simple tips, you’ll feel confident and ready to get out there and find the perfect home for you.

Prioritize Your Must-Haves

If you’re a first-time home buyer, it’s crucial to sit down and think through what your needs and wants really are, particularly regarding size, location, and amenities. Even seasoned home owners will find that setting aside the time to write down what you need in a new home will save you a ton of time in the long run.

Instead of sorting through listing after listing, you can narrow it down significantly by knowing what your must-haves are. It’s equally important to be smart about prioritizing your list and keeping an open mind, especially when it comes to the smaller stuff. Most home-buyers will have to compromise on at least a couple items to find a house that fits into a realistic budget.

Check Your Credit Score

Credit requirements have become more and more strict in recent years, making it challenging for some buyers to find home loans. Having a favorable credit score can make a huge difference in getting approved for a loan. Even if you think nothing has changed on your credit report, it’s smart to check anyway.  Federal law allows you to get a free copy of your credit report every 12 months, and it’s smart to do so to be sure all information is correct and up to date. This site will get your to your report.

Make sure you’re not being unfairly penalized for old debts, which can sometimes linger on credit reports. Borrowers with scores in the low 600s and even high 500s can still find lenders who will qualify them, but ideally you should strive for scores in the mid-to upper-700s to land the best rate. Also, refrain from opening any new credit cards in the months leading up to your purchase. This can be particularly tempting around the holidays, but it could hurt your chances of getting a mortgage considerably.

Set a Realistic Budget

Don’t let your maximum loan approval amount dictate what your home-buying budget should be. You are the best and only judge of what you can safely, realistically afford. Many experts advise that your total monthly home expenses should not exceed more than one-third of your gross monthly income. Don’t forget to determine how much you’ll need in order to cover any loan fees and closing costs and include that in your final budget.  You can find mortgage calculators online like this one that may help you plan a budget for your mortgage.

Sell Your Current Home

If buying a new home is contingent on selling your current one, it’s a good idea to start by reaching out and consulting with your realtor. You probably want to sell your home quickly, but keep in mind that if you want to get the best price possible, it’s critical to put it on the market at just the right time.

In the meantime, you can work on any maintenance issues your home may have and make a plan for when, how, and if each one will be addressed. You might be surprised by how much even minor fixes can change how a potential buyer sees your home. Ask your realtor if investing in any upgrades to your current home would result in a favorable return when it comes time to sell, and get to work. Then go to www.FindTheHomePros.com to find the professionals to help you with any needed repairs or replacements.

Try to enjoy the process as much as possible during this exciting time!