If you’ve resolved to purchase a home in 2019, there are a few good habits that can help you get there. These behaviors are things you can do daily, weekly, monthly or even just yearly that, when combined, will set you well on the path to homeownership. Here, realtor.com offers a breakdown of home-buying habits to adopt now, especially if you hope to begin looking once home-buying season is in full swing this spring.
1. Daily: Ditch an indulgence or two
Saving for a down payment is vital to a successful house purchase, and buyers who can put down 20 percent don’t have to pay private mortgage insurance. So, how do you achieve that 20 down-payment goal? By Spending less. Daily habits you might want to adopt now include dining out less often, reducing the cable bill, canceling (or downgrading) your gym membership, forgoing expensive coffee and making your own lunch every day. Buyers also shouldn’t make big purchases, either. If you have an expensive car payment, consider selling the car or turning in the lease. Then buy a less expensive car for the time being or use public transportation.
2. Weekly: Make deposits into a ‘home savings’ account
Consider opening a designated home savings account, get into the habit of depositing a set weekly amount and you could soon have a tidy amount for a down payment. To meet your goal sooner, keep your home aspirations modest. This will enable you to get approved easily by the bank.
3. Weekly: Start attending open houses
Get into the habit of attending open houses. This not only will give you a feel for what homes are available, but it also could help motivate you to save when you see homes that could be yours. It also will educate you on the market. Once you observe first-hand what houses are selling for, it will help you determine if it’s a good time to buy.
4. Monthly: Do a trial run at homeownership
Owning a home is more than just coming up with a 20 percent down payment. You also have to be able to pay the mortgage and home-maintenance costs—from lawn care to unexpected repairs. Make sure you won’t max yourself out by testing out the habit of saving as a homeowner. For one month, set aside the anticipated amount of your monthly housing expenses and what you’d need for an emergency fund. (A good rule of thumb is to save 10 percent of your mortgage amount every month for maintenance fees.) Then see if you can live within your new budget. If you can’t live within the budget, you’ll know to opt for a smaller home.
5. Monthly: Pay all bills on time
You’ll need a credit score in the 600s, at the very least, to qualify for a mortgage at a reasonable interest rate. The best way to keep your score high is to be in the habit of paying every single bill on time. Timely payments are especially important for auto loans and leases, since mortgage lenders look there first when checking reliability. In case you forget, set bills on automatic payment. Bills also include your rent. Remember: When you’re going into a home purchase, you sometimes need a referral from your landlord. Whether your rent check arrived on the first or the 15th of the month matters. And don’t forget about medical bills, which stay on your credit score for seven years if late or unpaid. Finally, always pay down credit cards with any extra cash you have at the end of the month.
6. Yearly: Check your credit report
Do you even know what your credit score is, or even laid eyes on your credit report? If not—or if you haven’t done so recently—now’s the time to check. To obtain a free copy of your credit score, go to CreditKarma.com. For your full credit report, available for free once a year, go to AnnualCreditReport.com. After all, there may be things on that report you weren’t aware of that are harming your score. The only way to know and nip these problems in the bud is to check.