Buying a home is a time of enormous possibilities and intense preparation. Doing some preliminary planning before you begin your home search will make the entire process more manageable and less overwhelming.
As part of your initial game plan, you should:
Even if you're sure you have excellent credit, it's wise to double-check at the outset. Straightening out any errors or disputed items now will avoid troublesome holdups down the road when you’re waiting for mortgage approval.
Make sure that any outdated derogatory entries are deleted from your credit file. Officially cancel inactive credit cards. Don't just cut up your extra cards; officially cancel them, and do it now so there will be time for the news to reach the credit bureaus.
Hold off on making any major credit card or car purchases while you're waiting to apply for a mortgage. Monthly payments you're obligated to pay will be counted against you, and reduce the amount of the mortgage loan you'll be offered.
A bank loan officer or mortgage broker will "pre-qualify" you for a mortgage before you start house-hunting. This process includes analyzing your income, assets and present debt to estimate what you may be able to afford on a house purchase.
Obtaining mortgage "pre-approval" is another thing entirely. It means that you have in hand a lender's written commitment to put together a loan for you (subject only to the particular house you want to buy passing the lender's appraisal). Pre-approval makes you a strong buyer, welcomed by sellers.
If you were changing cities, you can simplify and streamline the house-hunting process by using the Internet to Find a Home, Find an agent, Find a Cary Neighborhood, and Find Resources.
For local moves, you have the advantage of driving around neighborhoods that interest you and looking at lawn signs. Particularly on weekends, you will see "Open House" postings. Don't hesitate to walk in, even if you're not ready to buy yet. Visiting open houses is an excellent way to familiarize yourself with the market.
Making sure you end up with the right home involves figuring out exactly what features you want and don’t want in a home. Before starting your search, you should make a "wish list" to decide which features are absolutely essential, which are nice "extras" if you happen to find them, and which are completely undesirable. The more specific you can be about what you’re looking for from the outset, the more effective your home search will be. Also keep in mind, that in the end, every home purchase is a compromise.