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5 Things Smart Homebuyers Do to Get Ahead in the Spring Housing Market

A couple doing finances

As spring begins, the real estate market surges with activity, marking the busiest and most exciting time of the year for homebuyers. With warmer weather and longer days for showings, as well as the desire to secure a home before the next school year, many buyers enter the market with hopes of finding their perfect home. What this means is more competition, and buyers with all their ducks in a row have a considerable advantage. Whether you’re a first-time buyer or someone returning to the housing market, the steps below can set you up for success.


 

1. Check your credit score.

Example of a good credit score: 702

If you’re applying for a mortgage, it’s crucial to know where you stand financially. Start by checking and understanding your credit score. For a conventional home loan, most lenders require a credit score of at least 620; however, there are other options for lower credit scores, like an FHA loan.

 

A good credit score significantly impacts your ability to qualify for a mortgage and the interest rates available to you. Be sure to check your credit report so you can review and address any discrepancies or outstanding debts. You're entitled to one free credit report each year, which you can request at AnnualCreditReport.com. If your score needs a boost, consider taking steps to improve it before applying for a mortgage, and be sure to protect your credit score during the home loan process.

 


2. Get pre-qualified for a mortgage.


Once you know your financial standing, it’s a good idea to get pre-qualified for a mortgage. With a pre-qualification, you’re more likely to be taken seriously as a buyer since it shows your finances are in order. Many sellers won’t even consider an offer if you don’t have financing in place.


 

3. Plan for moving costs.


Someone using a calculator

One of the bigger surprises people encounter when buying a home is the cost of moving into it. It’s important to create a moving budget, whether you plan to pay a moving company or go the DIY route. With both options, it’s smart to have an emergency fund for additional costs and unexpected expenses.

 

Hiring a moving company undoubtedly saves you time and effort. Some even offer packing services, vehicle relocation, and furniture assembly. If you choose to hire professionals, you should also consider purchasing moving insurance to protect against any damage to your belongings.

 

While moving without hired help is more effort, you may find it a better financial decision to rent a truck or moving container and do it yourself. Travel expenses will depend on how far you are moving, and there are ways you can get creative with packing supplies, whether it’s towels for “moving pads” or free boxes from your local supermarket. Once again, insurance for any truck or equipment rentals is a wise consideration.


 

4. Create your wish list.


With a realistic budget and plan, you can begin to envision your dream home. Create a detailed wish list detailing your desired features, such as number of bedrooms, location, architectural style, yard size, and amenities. Then, prioritize your list based on non-negotiables and preferences, allowing you to focus on homes that align with your overall vision. As you navigate the housing market, you’ll find that having a wish list narrows your search and saves you time.

 


5. Work with an experienced agent.


Your real estate agent will be with you through every step of the homebuying process, which is why it’s crucial to work with someone who understands the current market and your needs. Asking your lender or friends and family for referrals is a good place to start. You can also read online reviews or ask to speak to recent customers to get a feel for the agent’s reputation and working style. Ultimately, you want to find a trusted agent who understands your home goals and has the resources and knowledge to help you succeed.


 

Armed with the above checklist, plus patience and flexibility, you’ll position yourself for success in this bustling real estate season. Happy house hunting!

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