Is now the right time financially for you to buy a home? Would you rate your financial picture as healthy? Is your credit good? While you can always find a lender to lend you money, solid lenders are more skeptical if your credit history is not good.
Generally, a couple of blemishes on a credit report will make you a good credit risk and could qualify you for the lowest interest rates. If you have more than a couple of blemishes on your report, some may still provide you with a loan, but you may have to pay a higher interest rate and fees.
Here’s what you can do to get your finances in order to buy a home:
- Pay off your debts
Make and execute a plan on how to pay off any debts that you may have before starting a home buying process.
- Check your credit score
- Check your credit card, financial institution, or loan statement. Many credit card companies, banks, and loan companies have started providing credit scores for their customers. It may be on your statement, or you can access it online by logging into your account.
- Purchase credit scores directly from one of the three major credit bureaus or other providers.
- Use a credit score service or free credit scoring site. Some sites provide a free credit score to users. Others may provide credit scores to credit monitoring customers paying a monthly subscription fee.
- Improve your credit score
- Pay your bills on time. That sounds simple enough, but if you have trouble remembering this task, consider setting up email or text payment reminders with your creditors or automatic bill payment.
- Pay at least the minimum on your credit card bill. Pay more if you can.
- Keep your existing credit card accounts with a zero balance open. Don’t close these accounts. Having available credit lessens your credit risk and closing the accounts could decrease your score.
- Correct errors on your credit report. Look for things like incorrectly listed late payments. Contact the three different credit rating agencies if you see discrepancies.
- Reduce your debt. Create a plan to pay off your highest interest rate debts first while maintaining minimum payments on your other accounts.
How to save for a down payment
- Savings. Buyers often save regularly for years by reducing expenses, taking a second job, or getting a smaller apartment if they are renting. Make your plan and start as soon as possible!
- Gift. If you would accept a gift, you’ll need to get it clearly in writing that the person making the gift has no financial interest in or obligation toward the property. A bank will not accept it if your gift is really a loan.
- Special programs*. Provincial and local governments offer down payment assistance to homebuyers. Many nonprofit organizations also offer down payment assistance. Ask West Team Realtor® about more information on these programs.
A good faith deposit is needed when making an offer or having a purchase offer accepted. The purpose of this deposit is to show that the buyer is serious about purchasing the seller’s home. This deposit is normally held in the listing brokerage’s trust account until closing. The amount a buyer deposits is subtracted from the total cost they will need at closing.
- Appraisal Fee. This fee is due when you apply for the mortgage.
- Credit Report. Lenders will charge for pulling a credit report on borrower(s).