What to Do Years Before Buying a Home

REITAs many of you already know, my wife and I will be moving in a few months. As I’ve already shared before, we’ve already eliminated the option of buying a home. It would be a stretch for us to buy a home this early – it’s possible, but it would be way too risky for me. But, that doesn’t mean that we’re doing nothing.

It’s exactly the opposite. We’re being really active in preparation for our future home – mainly because it means that much to us. “We” are also really preparing for our home purchase because I like to be well prepared. If you are looking to buy a home in the next couple of years, here’s a few things that you can do to prepare yourself for a mortgage.

Step 1 – Evaluate your Spending and Cut Back

My wife and I just announced our¬†ten steps to save more money to help us afford our lifestyle changes and also continue to save for our down payment. The simple truth is that if you are thinking of buying a home anytime soon, you need to start working on your plan to get yourself from no savings to a down payment. It’s not easy to build up a down payment when you make less (as a young adult), but it’s not impossible. It takes hard work, but I’m excited to save the money for our first home.

Step 2 – Make Sure You Can Afford It

Saving up enough money for a down payment isn’t the only sign that you can afford to buy a home. You also have to have enough extra cash in an emergency fund, enough income to cover the mortgage, insurance, and taxes, and that’s only the beginning. Make sure to include the regular maintenance, repairs, and other minor expenses. Also make sure that you are not being too confident on the security of your income, and it’s always a better option to buy a home based on one income.

Step 3 – Estimate Your Mortgage Payment and Get Preapproved

Another part of the preparation for buying a home is getting an idea of what you will be approved for. You have to be careful because approval for home loans¬†because approval means that someone is doing a hard inquiry on your credit. It’s okay to do occasionally, but too many inquiries can actually hurt your credit, which in turn increases your interest rate and how much you will pay for your mortgage. With that warning aside, I am a huge fan of getting a pre-approval well in advance so that you can get an idea of what you will be approved for and how much it is going to cost to buy a home. When you get closer to buying a home, you can start to shop around to find the best rate and mortgage in general, but it starts with having a long-term goal.

Buying a home can be a really exciting thing – or so it seems from where I am sitting. But, it doesn’t mean that it’s all fun and games. It takes lots of preparation and hard work to do it without making a major mistake. Luckily, if you are a few years away from buying a home, you have enough time to prepare.

8 Responses to What to Do Years Before Buying a Home

  1. Great ideas. These are usually the steps people take when they are going through their mortgage application with an adviser or bank manager. However, in reality, this is what should have been done months, or even years before.

  2. As you pointed out, the biggest prep for a house is to save, save, and save. I came up with what I could afford by working backward. I first decided on my monthly payments being 33% of my take home pay. I then found out the likely cost of insurance and iterated the cost of taxes based on likely home value. That left me with the payment I could make toward the mortgage. There are lots of amortization calculators and spreadsheets that you can use to back calculate the total loan size. I then made sure I had more than 20% of that in the bank, and went looking for a house.

  3. I think savings is a big key, especially to get up to a 20% down payment (at a minimum). I know my one bank still lets you get a zero down payment mortgage, but I don’t want to have to deal with the higher interest rate. Plus, if I can’t save up for a down payment, what are the odds I am saving for emergency repairs.

  4. Good post! If you are considering purchasing a house – any time – in the near future, then definitely get yourself pre approved for a mortgage first. Not only will you find out how much home you can afford…but you will also find out if there are any “red flags” that might cause a lender to not lend…
    We complete a thorough pre approval on all of our clients, including a full underwrite of credit, income, and assets…

  5. I’d also recommend buying a basics book like “Buying a Home for Dummies”. There are a whole lot of things to educate yourself on before purchasing a home that it is good to learn BEFORE rather than AFTER signing on the dotted line.

  6. Great advice! I’m leaning towards my first home purchase in about 5 years and I never really thought about putting that much effort into preparing for the purchase beyond saving up a down payment, which was silly really. These are some great tips I’m going to look into.