Preparing for Home Ownership

If you're a first time home buyer or looking for your next home, buying a home is one of the biggest purchases of your life, so it's a big decision. To help make things easier for you, here are five things you can do to make sure you’re prepared to buy a home.

Check your credit report.

You’ll want to have your credit in good shape before you apply for a home loan. Maximize your credit score by making sure your credit report is accurate, paying all of your bills on time, paying off as much debt as you can and limiting the number of credit cards you have. Here's more information about Credit Scores.

Know how much house you can afford.

As a general guide, look to keep you mortgage payment at 25 percent or less of your gross monthly income. Your total debt payments – including housing, credit card bills, car loans, child support and other debt – should not exceed 30 to 40 percent of your gross income even after you buy a home. Use our Mortgage Calculator or get an estimate of your monthly costs associated with buying a new home. 

Save for a down payment and closing costs.

You will need between 3 and 20 percent of the purchase price of the home as a down payment. The larger your down payment, the easier it will be to qualify for a mortgage.

Calculate the additional costs of homeownership.

The joy of owning your own home comes with costs that renters don’t have to pay. Research the cost of property taxes and homeowner’s insurance. Expect maintenance costs for your roof, plumbing, heating, cooling and appliances. Find out the utility costs of any home you are considering purchasing.

Get familiar with the market.

Drive through neighborhoods you like. Find out how much houses are selling for in that area.

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