Are you thinking about buying your first home? You’re not alone – this year it’s estimated that hundreds of thousands of people will take that big step into the American Dream and purchase their first home. That process can be confusing, overwhelming, and downright scary at times, but usually turns out to be the best (and happiest) investment you’ll ever make. The good news is that there are ways to prepare. It’s recommended you start planning about 6- 12 months before you are ready to sit in a realtor’s car and write offers. By following this simple checklist, you’ll be ready to enjoy the process, make the best financial decision, and find a great new home.

1. SIT DOWN WITH A MORTGAGE OFFICER
The biggest mistake a buyer can make is to go out looking at houses before they are qualified for a loan. Talking to a good mortgage loan officer will help you answer all of the important questions – how much house can we afford, what will our payments be, how much money do we need to put down, and can we even qualify for a loan?

2. TAKE A HARD LOOK AT YOUR CREDIT SCORE
Talk to a credit professional about what your credit looks like and what can be done to increase it before your home purchase. Even a 20-point bump in credit score can save you tens of thousands of dollars over the course of your new loan. Blue Water Credit offers a complimentary consultation and would love to help, and work with your loan officer.

3. KNOW WHAT YOU WANT
Now the fun part – you get to actually talk about houses. I recommend making a list with your needs and wants. Decide the important stuff that you’ll be stuck with (location, location, location, square footage.) Take a few weekends to drive through those neighborhoods, go to open houses, look through listings, and generally get familiar with what’s out there.

4. FIND A GREAT REALTOR
You’ll want to commit to working with a great real estate agent. Find someone who you like, who really cares, knows the neighborhood you want to buy in, knows the market, etc.

5. GET YOUR MONEY RIGHT
Based on the recommendation of your loan officer and what you find on your credit report, it’s wise to get your financial house in order before your literal house. Save money for the down payment, to show a solid savings account, paying off debt if needed, and allocate money toward the cost of home inspections, appraisals, repairs once you move in, etc.