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1.) Get Organized. Wanting to buy a home doesn’t mean you’re actually ready to do so. You have a lot of homework to do, especially when it comes to your credit. Know the credit score requirements of lenders and understand the different types of loans and their requirements. Make a list and check it twice before you apply for a mortgage, your credit score and purchasing power depends on it.
2.) Know your Debt-to-Income Ratio. According to the Credit Union National Association, a conventional home loan requires applicants to never exceed a debt ratio of 28 percent of their gross monthly income. You can improve your chances of securing a mortgage long before you start shopping for a home. Get a free rough assessment of how much "house" you can afford from a House Value Store Local Expert. They will calculate approximate mortgage payments for homes that are within your budget, along with taxes, insurance, and utilities. Take that calculated payment and compare it to what you’re paying now for rent. Bank the difference and use the money down the road for a down payment or closing costs on your home. The best part about this plan is that you can realistically see how much you can afford in a real-life scenario and scale down your payments if you need to.
3.) Save Every Penny You Can. Squirreling away money is something you should be doing, above and beyond saving for a down payment and closing costs. Lenders want to know that you aren’t scraping by, paycheck to paycheck. If you have three to six months’ worth of mortgage payments and living expenses set aside, they’ll view you as a viable applicant for a home loan.
Lenders like the FHA will give you more options and wiggle room when they see you’ve built up a nice nest egg. As a homeowner, this money can be used to help cover emergency repairs and maintenance too. On average, you will spend 2.5-3 percent of your home’s value on repairs and regular maintenance. If purchasing a quarter-million-dollar home, expect to save $520-$626 per month. A solid emergency fund makes sense, raises your credit score, and ensures you won’t lose it all in the face of disaster.