Tip 1 – Start saving for a down payment
Depending on your lender and the type of loan you choose, your required down payment can range from 2.25% to 20% of the purchase price of the home. Establishing a monthly budget will help you put away enough money for your down payment.
Once you’ve assessed what your budget will support, consider having money automatically deposited from your paycheck or bank account to a savings account to make it easier and more convenient to put aside money each month. An account like Discover Bank’s AutoSavers Plan can help you start saving today.
If you won’t be able to come up with a large down payment, then you should look into an FHA loan, which helps home buyers who can only make a small down payment.
Tip 2 – Check your credit score
Having a good credit score puts you in a position to attract the best deal on your home loan. So it’s a good idea to obtain a copy of your credit report before starting the home buying process. You will see what your credit profile looks like to potential lenders and can then take steps to improve your credit score if necessary.
You can receive one free copy of your credit report each year from each of the three major credit reporting agencies – Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion – by visiting www.annualcreditreport.com. If you pay a small fee to the reporting agency, the credit report you receive will also include your credit score.
Tip 3 – Get your financial documents in order
When you apply for a mortgage, you will need to provide your lender with a number of financial documents. Having these documents already assembled will help accelerate the processing of your loan application. At a minimum, you should be prepared to provide your last two pay stubs, your most recent W-2, your last two years of tax returns, and current bank and brokerage statements.
Tip 4 – Utilize a mortgage calculator
Mortgage calculators are great tools for helping you understand how much home you can afford. They are very easy to use and can show you how much your monthly mortgage payment would be under different home price, down payment and interest rate scenarios. Check out a variety of our handy mortgage calculators.
Tip 5 – Learn how to compare offers
All mortgages are not created equal. Even if loans have the same interest rate, there could be differences in the points and fees that make one offer more expensive than another. It’s important to understand all of the components that go into determining the price of your mortgage, so you can accurately compare the offers being made. You can click here for a good explanation of the components of mortgage pricing.