The Planning Phase is the first step in the homebuying process, and it can help potential buyers get off on the right foot. It can be tempting to go into this process all guns blazing, but there are a handful of steps you should take to be as prepared as possible. These steps include:
- Credit Improvement – Having a solid credit score is an important aspect of buying a home. A high credit score reflects your dependability to lenders, and the higher your credit score, the better deal you’re likely to get on a loan. Focusing on improving your credit before purchasing a home can ensure you’re getting the best deal possible when the time comes. Find out more information on the correlation between your credit score and getting a mortgage, here.
- Saving/Budgeting – This portion of the planning phase is often the most difficult and time-consuming for many potential homebuyers. Along with your credit score, providing a down payment on a home shows lenders that you are capable of saving and managing money. Additionally, having a down payment can save you money in the long run, as you’ll avoid having to fork over money for mortgage insurance.
- Research – After you get a better idea of the price range of homes you can afford, it’s time to start researching. This can include looking into things like the home’s location and corresponding school district, and various features that you’d like your home to have. This phase can you help you avoid “window shopping,” or falling in love with a house that isn’t realistically attainable.
- Pre-Approval – Getting pre-approved for a home gives the seller and listing agent an opportunity to see if you qualify for the home you are looking at purchasing. The pre-approval process with your lender involves them reviewing your income, credit, debt service and ability to afford a home looking at proposed payments or PITI (principle, interest, property taxes and insurance). Learn more about the pre-approval process, here.
After completing the Planning Phase, it’s time to move on to step number two: the Shopping Phase.