Buying a home can be thrilling and nerve-wracking at the same time, especially for a first-time homebuyer -- it's difficult to know exactly what to expect. The learning curve can be steep, but most of the issues can be resolved by doing a little financial homework.
Take these 5 steps to help make the process go more smoothly.
Scour the reports for mistakes, unpaid accounts or collection accounts.
Just because you pay everything on time every month doesn't mean your credit is stellar, however. The amount of credit you're using relative to your available credit limit, or your credit utilization ratio, can sink a credit score.
The lower the utilization rate, the higher your score will be. Ideally, first-time homebuyers would have a lot of credit available, with less than a third of it used.
Repairing damaged credit takes time -- and money, if you owe more than lenders would prefer to see relative to your income. If you think your credit may need work, begin the repair process at least 6 months before shopping for a home.
Evaluate assets and liabilities
So you don't owe too much money and your payments are up to date. But how do you spend your money? Do you have piles of money left over every month, or are you on a shoestring budget?
A first-time homebuyer should have a good idea of what is owed and what is coming in.
"If I were a first-time homebuyer and I wanted to do everything right, I would probably try to track my spending for a couple of months to see where my money was going," he says.
Additionally, buyers should have an idea of how lenders will view their income, and that requires becoming familiar with the basics of mortgage lending.
For instance, some professionals, such as the self-employed or straight-commission salesperson, may have a more difficult time getting a loan than others.
According to Winesburg, the self-employed or independent contractor will need a solid 2 years' earnings history to show.