4 Financial Tips for Buyers

Getting ready to buy a house? Before you head out on your first home tour with your agent, arm yourself with the following advice.

1. Double check your credit

If you're thinking about buying, you should already be "keeping score." Know your credit score, and make sure to rectify any credit reporting errors before lenders take a look. 

2. Understand the added cost of certain features

As you make your list of "must-have" home features, be sure you consider the added expenses that may come with them. Your math should include things like the cost of landscaping maintenance for extra acreage and energy costs that come with added square footage.

3. Discover where your dollars go

Get up close and personal with your monthly budget and track every single thing you purchase over 30 days. Review your credit card and bank statements to categorize where you spent each dollar (e.g., entertainment, food, clothing). Several online sites and software programs can help you track and categorize spending. This will help you identify where you can cut back to put more money toward a monthly mortgage payment. 

4. Research mortgage options

You don't always need to invest a 20 percent down payment. Explore your options, like a Conventional 97 from Fannie Mae. Just 3 percent down is enough to help you qualify for this program, as long as it's for a fixed-rate mortgage on a single-family home for under $417,000.