Take these four steps to prepare for a successful experience.
1. Stick to a budget. Tighten those purse strings and start funneling away as much money as possible for your closing costs, down payment and other expenses. Typically, the higher your down payment is, the easier it is to get a mortgage loan.
2. Work on your credit. Increasing your credit score can help you get a lower mortgage rate, which means a more affordable home purchase on the whole. Try to pay down some debts and set your bills to autopay. Both steps may help you improve your score.
3. Consider where you might compromise. Sometimes compromising on a few nice-to-haves can help you find a home within your price range. Could you settle for three bedrooms instead of four? A rural home instead of a suburban one? One story instead of two? You may also think about buying a condo or townhouse.
4. Do some deep-dive research. Make sure you know about all your possible mortgage loan options, as some can lower your upfront costs (or even cover them entirely). Talk to a few lenders, ask questions and consider getting preapproved for your loan before starting your search in the new year.