(ARA) - Whether you’re buying your first home or looking for a larger home, now may be the time to act. Not only do interest rates remain relatively low, in many markets you can get much more house for your money than you could just a few years ago.
But before you start looking for your new home, you will want to make sure your finances are in order so you can determine how much home you can afford. There are also benefits, such as saving money by qualifying for lower interest rates, if you make an effort to check your credit score and put yourself in a healthy financial position.
“Buying a home is one of the most important financial transactions that a person will make,” says Frank Destra, managing director and senior vice president of national sales for Ditech, one of the nation’s leading online mortgage lenders. “No matter what the housing market is experiencing, consumers should always first look at their own financial situation and work with a lender to determine the most appropriate financing options available to them.”
Here are some tips from Destra for putting yourself in a healthy financial position to help you get a mortgage in today’s market.
1. Check Your Credit – One of the first steps in the home financing process is to check your credit report. An individual's credit score will have a significant impact on their mortgage loan approval and interest rate. Credit scores range from 500 to 850, but the majority of scores are in the 600s and 700s. The higher the score, the more options you will have when you are looking for mortgages (although there are other factors lenders will look at before they approve a loan). Carefully review your credit report and immediately contact the credit reporting bureaus to correct any misinformation as you will want your credit report to be accurate by the time you start applying for your mortgage.
2. Improve Your Credit Score – Once you have had a chance to review your credit, you may want to look for ways you can improve your score. Paying off old debts and paying your bills on time are two easy ways to start improving your credit score.
The amount of debt you owe is also included in your credit report, and having a large amount of credit card debt will lower your score. In addition, the amount of existing debt you have plays a part in how large a loan a lender is willing to give you. Mortgage lenders will look at the total amount of debt you have and compare it to your income. This is one way lenders make sure that you will still be able to afford to pay your bills when you add the additional debt from a mortgage loan.
Paying your bills on time is very important, especially if you’re thinking of buying a new home. Lenders will be able to see your bill payment history when they look at your credit report. If you have a pattern of making late payments, not only will it make your credit score lower, lenders will also be more wary to lend you money. Using your bank’s online bill pay or keeping track of your bills in a notebook are two easy ways to keep track of your bills to help you pay on time.
3. Save, Just A Little Bit More – Of course it's important to save money for the down payment and closing costs. But there's more to buying a home than figuring out if you can pay a monthly mortgage payment. Your costs may be similar to renting, but now you must be prepared to maintain a home, too. Weekly shopping trips to your local big box home store to purchase everything from decorating items to a lawn mower can add up quickly. That's why many mortgage lenders recommend that first-time homebuyers have at least three to six months of additional savings.
4. Get Pre-approved – Before you start working with a real estate agent, consider contacting a mortgage lender to obtain a pre-approval credit decision. A loan officer will review your financial status, including your income, cash flow and credit score, to help you determine the maximum monthly housing payment for which you may be able to qualify, and, if qualified, "pre-approve" your mortgage before you've found a home. A credit pre-approval will also help you narrow your search to those homes within a predetermined price range and will let sellers know that you are a serious buyer. Obtaining a pre-approval letter may also offer more confidence and certainty to home sellers that you are a serious buyer.
For more tips on buying a home, go to www.ditech.com or call a Ditech mortgage consultant at (800) DITECH-3.
Courtesy of ARAcontent