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December
31

For thousands of years, the New Year has been seen as a time of starting over, a time to resolve to begin again, and work toward a better life, with new dreams and goals.

If buying a house is on your list of goals for 2023, here are four things you can do to make sure the home-buying process goes smoothly.

Improve Your Credit Score
Having the highest possible credit score is extremely important if you're financing a home with a mortgage. Higher credit scores mean a greater likelihood that you'll be approved for a loan and with much better interest rates.

Three great ways to improve you score: First, make all your payments on loans, credit cards and utilities on time. Second, do not incur any new debt before applying for a mortgage. Not only does new debt affect your debt-to-income ratio, but every time you apply for credit, the creditor makes an inquiry to your credit report that can lower your score.  And lastly, pay down your credit cards and lines of credit. Using 30 percent or less of your available credit is best.

Lower Your Debt-to-Income Ratio
Your debt-to-income ratio compares how much you owe each month to how much you earn. Specifically, it's the percentage of your gross monthly income (before taxes) that goes towards payments for rent, mortgage, credit cards, or other debt. Most lenders require all your debt payments, including your mortgage, to be 45 percent or less of your gross income, with the mortgage equaling 28 percent or less of your gross. Pay down your existing debt to lower your debt-to-income ratio and refrain from taking on new debt that will increase your ratio. These percentages apply even if you've been pre-approved for a loan. Your loan status can change if your financial situation changes or if your credit score decreases in the time between your pre-approval and the actual granting of the loan.

Grow Your Savings Account
There's more to buying a home than just the purchase price. There are other expenses to consider, including: down payments, inspection fees, lender fees, appraisal fees, moving expenses, utility connection fees, and the cost of any renovations, furnishings, and decorating.

Having a healthy saving account to cover these expenses is important in helping you secure a home loan. Set a monthly savings goal and track where your money is being spent. When you know exactly how much you spend on things like housing, food, transportation, and other essentials, you can then determine what non-essential expenses to cut and how much you can allocate to savings.

Know What You Want & Research the Market
Doing your home-buying homework by knowing the type of home you want and researching the area you're looking to buy in puts you ahead of the game. It helps you understand what properties are available and where they're located, how they're priced, and how quickly they're selling.

But you're not on your own. The professionals at First Choice Realtors and FCR Real Estate are here to help you navigate the home-buying process and guide you every step of the way. We understand the Northern West Virginia and Eastern Ohio markets better than anyone and can help you identify the right property quickly, determine if it is a good value, and decide how fast you need to move on the purchase.

For more information, reach out to one of our agents.

About First Choice Realtors and FCR Real Estate

First Choice Realtors and FCR Real Estate are full-service brokerages representing buyers and sellers of residential and commercial real estate in the Northern Panhandle of West Virginia and Eastern Ohio. As one of the valley's premier and top selling brokerages, First Choice serves West Virginia with locations in Wheeling, Moundsville, Weirton, and Wellsburg. FCR Real Estate, located in St. Clairsville, Ohio, serves Belmont, Monroe, Jefferson, Guernsey, and Harrison counties.

First Choice Realtors and FCR Real Estate, when buying or selling…we're THE RIGHT CHOICE.