If you have your sights set on becoming a homeowner, the best advice is to get started way before the spring real estate season begins. Despite the lack of housing inventory and record-high prices, there’s hope.
Although 2022 is likely to still be competitive for homebuyers, experts predict home appreciation growth to slow to 7 or 8 percent, instead of the 20 percent witnessed last year. Coupled with today’s higher interest rates, things may look a bit more normal than the housing frenzy of 2021.
For homebuyers, this means now is the time to get your personal finances prepared and to start identifying the type of home you desire. This will get you ready when more homes hit the market in the spring, which tends to be the busiest time for real estate.
Prepare Your Finances
Becoming a homeowner starts with an honest look at your finances and the things you’ll need to qualify for a mortgage from lenders such as Travis Credit Union. Here are some key actions:
- Review Your Credit Score: First and foremost, check your credit score as soon as possible so you can identify any problem areas and make improvements before you apply for a mortgage. You can check your credit reports for free each year at annualcreditreport.com and sign up for alerts from credit bureaus if there is a change detected on your credit report. Also, read how your credit score impacts what you pay for a mortgage.
- Save for down payment: If you haven’t already, start saving as much money as you can for a down payment. Traditionally, lenders require a 20 percent down payment of the value of the home. But that can vary by lender, loan type and program. To help your money grow even quicker, consider a high-yield savings account such as a TCU Money Market Account, which also gives you easy access to your money.
- Identify Your Debt-to-Income ratio: If your debt-to-income ratio is high, you’ll need to pay off some accounts, especially those with high interest rates, if you want to qualify for a mortgage.
- Review Your Income/employment history: Lenders will look for continuous, steady income in your employment history. Be ready to provide documents to back up your work history, especially if you have been self-employed or performed contract work in the past.
Focus your search
With your finances squared away, it’s time to find a realtor and start looking at the types of houses you want in the neighborhoods you desire. Know the price range of homes in your target market, as well as the various home features that are priorities for you. This will help you make better decisions once new properties come on the market.
Things to ask yourself include:
- Are you looking to buy a starter home or a forever home?
- Will a townhome or condominium be sufficient or do you need a single-family home?
- What is the minimum down payment for a house you can afford? What is the maximum?
- Are you willing to be part of a homeowner's association and pay HOA fees?
- Do you want a ready-to-move-in home or one that may need some work?
- How much interior space and yard space do you need?
- How are the local schools?
Turn to Travis for Help
Travis Credit Union cares about your financial wellness. We can help you with the home-buying process, from start to finish. Read our Frequently Asked Questions to get answers to commonly asked mortgage questions.
We also have free webinars such as Home Buying 101, Understanding the Importance of Your Credit Score and Organizing Your Financial Records. If you need help with your credit score, Experian Boost™ can help raise it immediately.
Ready to start your home buying journey? Get pre-approved at Travis today!