The world looks much different today than it did a year ago, and that includes buying a home for first-time home buyers. Gone are the days of unlimited open houses, casual showings and large group meetings. But just because COVID-19 has thrown a wrench in your plans doesn’t mean you can’t prepare for home ownership despite social distancing measures! Read on to learn how you can safely prepare for home ownership during these uncertain times to keep your dreams of home ownership on track.
Start Window Shopping
While most home ownership hopefuls spend a lot of time online looking at homes in their area, mortgage rates and more, this might be a great time to leverage the internet even more. Instead of just doing cursory glances at homes that strike your fancy, you can use this time to see what really interests you about these homes. Are you drawn to open floor plans, or large yards? Understanding why these homes are at the top of your list can help you make a checklist of needs and wants that will help you narrow down your search for the perfect home further down the line.
Get Your Credit in Order
If you are hoping to raise your credit score ahead of buying a home, this might be a great chance to dive in to some more in-depth research and really get your credit in shape. Your credit is a major factor for lenders to determine how much they can lend you and at what rates, so a little extra time to get your affairs in order might be just what you need to get your credit up to snuff. Use this time to check your credit report for errors that could be bringing your credit down unnecessarily and dispute them. In addition, you can pay down your debt just a little bit more and avoid unnecessary credit inquiries before you approach a lender. Every little bit counts, and since your credit is largely dependent on time, a few extra weeks or months might be just what you need.
Talk to a Housing Counselor
If you have a little extra time on your hands before the house hunting begins, it might be a good idea to use this time to approach a housing counselor to talk about your options. A housing counselor can be invaluable in helping you navigate the home buying process and avoid making mistakes, particularly if you are a first-time buyer. A housing counselor can review your credit score and your monthly income and expenses, and provide recommendations on whether now is a good time to buy. If you aren’t ready yet, your counselor can help you improve your credit to meet loan requirements and help establish a budget that can help you buy a home when you’re ready.
COVID-19 doesn’t have to completely derail your dreams of buying a home. With affordable mortgage products, a statewide network of lenders, real estate agents and housing counselors and resources to help you get educated about home ownership, the NC Housing Finance Agency can help make home ownership a reality for you. Learn more at NCHomeAdvantage.com.