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Whether you are just starting to consider purchasing a home, there are some steps you should take to make the process easier. 

Here are six steps in preparing you to buy a home:

Check Your Credit
Start out by requesting a credit report. Checking your credit report early on in the home-buying process is essential. If you happen to find something negative on your report, it can take months to clear up. The U.S. government allows for one free report each year from each of the three national credit bureaus – TransUnion, Experian and Equifax. Make sure to visit annualcreditreport.com for your free reports.

Pay Down Debt
Banks do not want to see that you owe a lot of debt. Having too much debt negatively affects your credit score. Banks need to know that you will be able to pay their loan and a high credit score is what they want to see. So start off by paying down all your credit card debt. It’s a good idea to put off purchasing a new car or other major purchase until after you have been approved for a mortgage.

Build A Down Payment
A down payment of no less than 20 percent of the home price is your target goal. It is not always necessary, particularly if you are a first-time homebuyer. A 3.5 percent down payment is the minimum required to secure an FHA loan. So although you might not end up bringing 20 percent to the transaction, be prepared to bring some cash to the transaction.

Research Neighborhoods
Do you know which part of town you want to live in? It’s time for you to start exploring. Drive around, walk the streets, visit the shops and eat in the restaurants. If you can picture yourself living there, then start searching for a home in that area. If not, you’ll have to start exploring in another community. Also, even if you don’t have children or don’t have children in public schools, research school districts too. Homes in good school districts tend to sell more quickly in the event you should decide to sell in the future.

Get Pre-Approved
Unless you are paying cash for your home, get a pre-approval letter from a lender. You will know exactly how much home you can afford; plus it shows sellers that you are serious. Plan to secure a pre-approval right before you start looking around at homes. It’s best to meet with more than one lender to determine which company you trust most and which one can offer you the best terms and interest rate. Your real estate agent can provide you with the names of some reputable lenders.

Find a Local Agent
Finding a real estate professional who can guide you through the steps of the home buying process is important. They can provide you with insights on your local real estate market and help you find the home of your dreams.