A 9-month Plan to Buy a House This Year
Does buying a house seem like a far-off pipe dream?
It can actually be a lot easier than you think — as long as you’ve got a plan in place.
If you’re hoping to get out of the rent race and buy a home in the new year, then we can help. Just follow this simple, nine-month plan, and put your home buying goals within reach:
Month 1: Pull your credit report and do some research.
The first thing you need to do is pull your credit report. You can get one for free at AnnualCreditReport.com. Once you do this, look at your report carefully. Are there any errors or accounts you don’t recognize? What about overdue accounts or collections? These can all impact your credit score and, therefore, your home buying prospects. (Your credit score influences what interest rate, terms, and even loan types you’ll be eligible for when purchasing your home).
You will also need to do some research. Use a mortgage calculator to determine how much you can afford monthly (given your income and existing debts), as well as what price range you should be looking in. You can also use this number to hone in on how much savings you’ll need. For most mortgage loans, you’ll need at least 3 to 10% of the purchase price for a down payment, and then another 2 to 5% of the price for closing costs.
Month 2: Create a plan for saving up and prepping your credit.
Next, you need to create a plan for prepping your credit and saving up for all those home buying costs. If your credit has some blemishes, you’ll need to resolve those before buying a home. That means settling any collections attempts, alerting credit bureaus of any errors found on your report, and paying down any high-balance debts you might have.
You might not be able to do this all at once, but create a schedule to address these items at least a month or two before applying for your loan. You might also ask your landlord to start reporting your rent to credit bureaus, as this may improve your credit score, too.
You’ll also need a plan for saving up that cash. Figure out where you can cut corners, and then set up a savings account to help funnel away money weekly or, at the very least, monthly, on a consistent basis. You can also use auto-saving apps like Acorns or Digit to make it even easier.
Months 3 & 4: Keep on keeping on.
It takes at least a few months to get your credit and savings on track before you should go any further. Keep your head down and stay consistent with your payments. You should also put any windfalls you get (tax refunds, holiday bonuses, etc.) toward your savings goals.
Month 5: Get pre-qualified for your mortgage loan.
Once your credit and savings are headed in the right direction, go ahead and get pre-qualified for your mortgage. This typically requires a quick form and maybe a credit check, depending on the lender. In the end, you’ll get a rough idea of the loan amount and interest rate you might be eligible for.
Month 6: Start looking for a home.
After getting pre-qualified, you’ll have a pretty good idea of what price range you should be looking in. If you want some guidance, connect with a local real estate agent, give them your pre-qualification letter, and let them know what you’re looking for in terms of a home. They can help you find appropriate properties, set up showings, make offers, and more.
Month 7: Win over that seller.
When you’ve found the home of your dreams, it’s time to make an impression on the seller. Work with your agent to submit a right-sized offer, and if your market is competitive, consider writing an offer letter to make a personal appeal.
Month 8: Get your documents in order and lock your rate.
If the seller accepts your offer, it’s time to get your mortgage loan on track. Gather all your financial documents (Recent W-2s, tax returns, bank statements, pay stubs, etc.), and complete your full application with the lender. Once all your paperwork is submitted, you can lock your interest rate, get your home inspected, and move on toward closing.
Month 9: Close on that dream home.
After your loan has been underwritten by your lender, you’ll attend your closing date. Bring a cashier’s check for your down payment and closing costs, and be ready to sign a good amount of paperwork. Once all is said and done, you’ll get your keys and be free to move into the home.
A Word to the Wise
This plan may not work for everyone. Depending on your credit, savings, location, and home buying goals, it could take you less or more time to purchase a house. For the most accurate idea of your home buying prospects, work with an experienced real estate agent and loan officer. Get in touch with Embrace Home Loans today to connect with a loan officer in your area who can help.