All the news everywhere is about how difficult and hard it is to qualify for a mortgage, and even when you do, the rules and requirements from underwriters make the whole process tiresome and frustrating.
But as with everything, it is all a matter of being prepared. That means today that long before you are actually ready to purchase a home you need to start cleaning up your credit. The higher your credit score, the lower your rate can be, so making sure you pay all your bills on time is very important. Not having all your credit on one credit card which is maxed out is also a good idea, it is much better to have three cards and spread the same debt over all three cards, then you are not maxing any one out and are using the available credit better from the lenders persepcetive and you get a higher credit score. Get a credit report, you can get a true free report on line, don't get foooled by scams that require you to pay to get your score. This central site is sponsored by the big three reporting agencies. Check this report over, make sure there is nothing on it that is incorrect or that there are lines of credit open that you have closed. Speak with a mortgage broker or banker to see what other ways you can improve your credit score. If you are not ready to buy yet, tell them that and don't let them push you into buying before you are ready. Also ask them what peperwork you are going to need to obtain a mortgage currently, and then get your self a file and start gathering it, payslips, bank statements, etc. keep it all in one place and update each month so you have everything together when you are ready. When you are ready to actually buy a home, get yourself pre-approved for a mortgage so that you are ready to make an offer if you see the home you want to buy.
You can also start looking at homes on line, there are many sites you can use, Realtor.com, Trulia, Zillow, agency websites like Long & Foster, and agent sites as wel; find one that you like and get to know how to use it fully. Check out some open houses, good agents who are sitting these will follow up with you, to see if they can obtain you as a client, if you find an agent that you like be prepared to work with them. Again be honest and let them know if you are just starting to look and may take you 12 or 18 months before you are ready to buy. I have worked with clients for this long and even longer before their circumstances were just right. Don't allow anyone, mortgage broker or agent to push you along in the process before you are ready. You are the customer, and you need to be comfortable with the process, ask questions, agents deal with contracts and negotiations regularly, what may seem a big obstacle to you may not be to them, and until you ask you don't know. By doing your homework and being prepared in advance you will know where you want to live, what you can afford and also be pre-approved and ready to sit down and write an agreement of sale for your home.
Being prepared, removes the stress, allows you to build your knowledge, and be comfortable with your agent, and the whole house buying process. Buying a home is one of the largest financial purchases you will make, so doesn't it make sense to be prepared and understand what you are doing. Good luck and enjoy the process.
If you are looking to the west of Philadelphia along and around the Main Line, in Chester, Delaware or Montgomery Counties we will be happy to answer any of your questions and help you get ready.