Most people who buy a home have been thinking about doing so for some time. Here are some things to do to help your transaction go smoothly when it's time.
1- Get pre-approved with a reputable lender. Make sure they take a thorough application. By this I mean, you should have provided them your W2s, bank statements, 401k statements, tax returns, etc. This way you will know what you are up against before you put an offer in on a home.
2- If your credit score is low, find out why and what to do to fix it. Sometimes your score is lower than you thought but you still qualify. If so, it might be best to leave it alone. With some loan programs, credit score doesn't affect your rate. With other programs, it does! You could possibly save thousands of dollars in interest by simply increasing your score a few points. Just ask the right questions to your lender. Some banks have a credit analysis program that is pretty legit. They pull your credit and can tell you whether to pay something off, down, close something, or do absolutely nothing different except wait a couple of months for your score to improve.
3- Save, save save! Even if you choose a loan program with a minimal down-payment requirement, there are still costs to buying a house and moving in. You don't want to let unexpected closing costs keep you from buying your dream home. Wait until you are in the house before you buy that couch. There's also the cost of moving whether you hire movers or rent a truck and do it yourself. Utilities have to be turned on and there's usually deposits for that. If you live in a neighborhood with an HOA, many times they charge a fee to go out and do a safety check on your home.
4-Stop moving money around! Decide which bank you are going to use for your down payment and closing costs. Put your money there and leave it alone! If you are one of those people that moves money around from bank to bank or account to account - stop it! This will save you from frustration and the worst headache you could ever experience when it comes time to do your loan. All large deposits have to be sourced within the past two months. The term "large deposit" is different for everyone. It depends on your income and the underwriter's discretion. If you are getting gift funds from a family member, their money has to be sourced as well.
A little bit of forethought and advanced preparation can keep the stress down and make your home-buying experience as pleasant as possible.