The process of becoming a homeowner goes beyond finding the right home for you and putting in an offer. It’s important to do some groundwork to put yourself in the best position when going to look at potential home options to make the entire home buying process much smoother. We’ve put together a list of 5 things you can do to become a homeowner in 2020.
CREATE A BUDGET
The first step is to create a monthly budget that will account for all of your income, expenses, and debts. Once you have your budget put together, it will help you understand where you stand financially and inform the rest of the home buying process. An important part to take away from this budget is to get a good idea of what you can afford to spend on a down payment.
BUILD UP YOUR CREDIT
One of the biggest things that will affect your financial situation and interest rate when dealing with your chosen mortgage lender is your credit score, or FICO score. The credit score will have an impact on the interest rate offered to you from a lender. In order to qualify for most conventional mortgages, you will need a minimum credit score of 620. If your credit score is above 740 you then fall into the category of having very good credit.
The best thing you can do to improve your credit is pretty simple: live within your means. Make sure you’re making all monthly payments on any open accounts on time while hopefully also putting a dent in any outstanding debt. Getting your credit under control is one of the top things you can do toward becoming a homeowner in 2020.
FIND WAYS TO SAVE
The biggest expense you have when becoming a homeowner in 2020 is your initial down payment. Ultimately, your goal is to put down a down payment of at least 20% of the total cost of the home you’re buying in order to avoid paying Private Mortgage Insurance, or PMI.
If you’re unable to put down the full 20%, you will have an additional monthly expense added to your mortgage to cover the cost of the PMI for the mortgage lender.
LOOK INTO AVAILABLE MORTGAGE RATES AND PROGRAMS
There are different types of mortgages available to home buyers and you should look into each of them to see if you qualify.
Some of these programs come with restrictions on your credit score, the home value, or even if you’re a first-time homeowner in 2020. Some of the programs you may qualify for include VA loans for military veterans, USDA loans for those with lower credit and no down payment, and FHA loans for first-time homebuyers.
With your mortgage, you will also need to choose if you feel you’re better off with a 15-year mortgage or a 30-year. With a 15-year mortgage, your interest rates will be lower but your monthly payments will be higher due to the increased amount paid toward the principal. It is generally considered a good idea to go with a 30-year mortgage to give yourself more room to make additional payments on the principal of the loan on your own terms, but if you feel you can swing the payments on a 15-year, go for it!
GET PRE-APPROVED WITH A LENDER
Finally, it’s time to contact your mortgage lender of choice and go through the preapproval process. The reason to do this is it will give you a concrete picture of what you can expect to be paying for your mortgage from that lender. You will receive a preapproval letter that can be helpful during the bidding and negotiation process.