How Much Home Can You Afford?
The single most important part of buying a house is figuring out how much you can realistically afford to pay. You'll have to take a good look at your budget, debts, credit reports, and credit score. Once you have a good picture of your financial status, start saving as much money as you can for a down payment, closing costs and other extra expenses that come along with buying a house. Extra expenses could include paying for a home inspection (around $300 - $500 depending on where you live) or hiring a moving company after the sale is final.
Depending on the condition of your finances -- if you have a lot of debt, errors on your credit report, or a low credit score -- getting ready financially could take six to 12 months or more! If your credit score falls below 640, lenders may see you as a risky borrower. This might mean you can only qualify for a sub prime mortgage (one with a higher interest rate). It might be worth your time to take a year and work on building a better credit report before taking on the responsibility of a mortgage. Also, if you qualify for a lower interest rate you could save thousands of dollars over the life of the loan. Be wary of companies that offer to repair your credit for a fee.