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What should I do to get started buying a home?

1. Get started

  • Review your credit history with Equifax, Experian or TransUnion—or all three—to ensure your credit score and credit history look good. If you discover any issues, don't worry! Now is the time to resolve outstanding issues or strive to raise your credit score.
  • Gather the documents you'll need to begin your loan application:
  • 30 days of pay stubs
  • Two years of tax returns and W-2s
  • Year to date business statements (if you're self-employed)
  • Explanations and paper trail for deposits or withdrawals above $1,000
  • Homeowners insurance quote
  • Information about any additional homes/businesses you own

2. Determine what you can afford

  • It is important to determine what kind of monthly payment you can afford for your mortgage. Use our online calculator to help you establish this price range.

3. Consider getting pre-approved and review loan plans

  • Meet with a loan officer to determine which loan options make the most sense for you. Do you qualify for a government loan program, such as FHA, VA or USDA?
  • Work with your loan officer to get pre-approved for the loan; this can help let sellers know you are a serious home buyer.

4. Set shopping priorities

  • Determine your "wants" versus your "musts" for your new home. For instance, is there a minimum square footage, bathroom or lot size that your are expecting?

5. Find a real estate professional

  • Seek out a trusted real estate agent who will confidently guide you through the home buying process. They will set up viewing appointments on your behalf and provide you with information about the homes in which you are interested. Your real estate agent should be knowledgeable about your area so they can provide information about schools, crime rates, transportation, etc.

6. Find a property

  • Look at properties in your price range and explore neighborhoods to see what you like—and what you don't like.
  • Research past home sales around the properties you prefer to determine if they are gaining value each year.
  • Investigate the community and school district to see if this is where you could see yourself living long-term.
  • Visit open houses in your preferred shopping areas or schedule private showings.
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