4 Guidelines for Homebuyers

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ShutterstockInstead of relying on what others say, figure out for yourself how much home you can afford.
By AJ Smith

Buying a home is a big decision personally and financially and it can sometimes seem like an intimidating process. Go into it with eyes wide open using these tips to be better at buying a home.

Educate Yourself: You can take control of your own homebuying experience by doing some research. Instead of relying on what others say, figure out for yourself how much home you can afford. This way, you can go into the conversation with both the mortgage lender and the seller armed with information. Having that knowledge will allow you to make better decisions and feel more confident about where you stand.

Ask Questions: Sure, some people buy multiple homes. But for most of us a home purchase is more rare -- if not a once in a lifetime event. So some of the lingo and real estate jargon will be new to you. Even after doing your research, you may come upon some issues or scenarios you don't fully understand. Don't be afraid to speak up. You are spending a lot of money and should feel comfortable.

Don't Forget to Weigh the Alternative: Just because you've reached a certain age or stage of life doesn't mean buying a home is always best. As with other decisions, it's a good idea to look at the alternatives. In this case, you could rent instead of buy a home. So before you sign on for the mortgage you'll want to compare whether it is better for you to buy or rent.

Know Your Credit Score: Along with researching the world of homebuying, it's important to do some research on yourself. Your credit score (here's how to check yours for free) can have a big impact on how much you will ultimately pay for your house. That's because mortgage lenders will use your credit score to determine how creditworthy you are. This information will factor into the interest rate on your mortgage loan. Basically, the greater the risk that you might not repay as agreed, the more interest they will charge, and the more you will pay in total to own the home.

You may also want to pull your credit reports, on which your credit score is based, to make sure they're accurate and up-to-date. You're entitled to free credit reports once a year from each of the major credit bureaus.

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