The process of buying a home has gotten more complicated in recent years. To make sure everything goes smoothly, you’ll want to get organized before you even begin to look for a house. Once you’ve taken care of these things, you’ll be ready to shop for the home of your dreams.

Check Your Credit Score. Examine and fix any blemishes on your credit score, before you apply for a loan. Also, avoid taking on any new debt at this time. This includes buying a new car or other large item on credit.

Look at Your Finances. Take an honest look at your budget and figure out how much home you can afford. There are many online calculators available to help you with this. In general, most loan programs require that your mortgage payment be no more than 28% to 31% of your gross monthly income.

Beef up Your Savings. You should have enough cash saved up to cover your down payment and closing costs. Depending on your mortgage, you’ll need anywhere from 3.5% to 20% down, plus money available for closing.

In addition, mortgage lenders like to see borrowers with a healthy savings account. This shows that you have enough money to pay for your closing costs and any incidental expenses, as well as enough to live on once you move in. Savers aren’t likely to be living paycheck to paycheck, and are good candidates for a loan.

Apply for Your Mortgage. Get preapproved for a loan before you even start to look at homes. Applying for a loan first gives you a definitive answer on how much mortgage you can afford, and ensures you have financing ready when you find your dream home.

Refine Your Shopping List. Finally, think about the features you really want in a house. You’ll probably live in this house for several years, and you want it to serve your needs the entire time. After all, if you change your mind in a few years, you may not be able to sell this house quickly.

Shopping for a home is exciting. Take the time to organize and prepare before you look at properties, so you can be ready to make an offer when you do find a home that you love.


Masha Halpern, Broker, CLHMS, GRI
Keller Williams Realty

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Masha Halpern and The Smart Move Team is your ultimate real estate resource for Chapel Hill, Durham, Carrboro and surrounding areas. Visit my website for detailed information regarding today’s real estate markets.

Masha is a certified member of The Luxury Home Marketing Institute, participates in its annual Leaders in Luxury Conference, and works with The Institute’s thousands of members worldwide to share information about current listings.

Masha is also a certified member of Keller Williams Luxury International and is also a member of Cyber Stars International – Top Realtors Using Technology – a group dedicated to taking the best and latest technological advances and applying them to real estate advertising and marketing for her clients in all price points. Masha Halpern can be contacted for a private consultation by calling 919-414-0337 or by visiting

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