Get a handle on your finances
1. Check your own credit
Your credit score will affect your mortgage interest rate; try to improve it as much as you can.
2. Research sales price in your area
Talk to an expert about sales prices and other costs of homeownership, like homeowners’ insurance and common maintenance needs.
3. Nail down the down payment
You can bring less than 20% down to the table for different loans, but you’ll have to pay private mortgage insurance (PMI).
4. Consider all the costs
You’ll also be paying property taxes and insurance premiums; you may also have to pay for flood insurance, closing costs, moving, and more.
5. Figure out what you can afford
Make sure you’re not getting in over your head; ideally, your entire monthly mortgage payment should comprise no more than 1/3 of your take-home income.
6. Understand what you want
Expect to be there for at least a couple of years, but probably closer to five or even ten, and try to accommodate for your future needs, too.
7. Get to know your deal breakers
A deal breaker is a feature of the home that you realistically can’t fix.
8. Search accordingly
Once you understand your must-haves and your deal breakers, your agent can set up a personalized alert anytime a home meets your exact criteria.
Offer smart and close strong
9. Think competitive but reasonable
Make a competitive offer, and consider using concessions to sweeten the deal.
10. Hire the inspector
Come to the inspection and listen carefully to any concern.
Ask questions about common problems.
Consider what to ask the seller to fix and what you feel OK tackling yourself.
11. Think beyond the close
Keep tabs on the market so you know how your taxes and insurance could increase, and maintain your home so it remains a good investment.