Before you buy a home, do your homework.

Couple looking for a homeFew things are more exciting than buying a beautiful new home. But before you take the plunge, take some time to explore how to prepare for the home-buying process and what you can expect.

Review your credit first. The key to obtaining a home loan is having good credit. Before you apply for a loan, get a copy of your credit report and examine it carefully. If you discover an inaccuracy, report it immediately to the three major credit-reporting agencies: Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. You can obtain a free credit report from each of those agencies once a year at annualcreditreport.com.

Obtain a loan preapproval. A preapproval helps you determine the amount you can borrow, how much of a down payment you’ll need to meet your desired monthly payment, and also helps you establish a budget.

Research desired neighborhoods. Don’t underestimate the importance of a neighborhood’s location. Consider school districts, nearby recreational opportunities and proximity to work. Make a list prioritizing your needs and wants, and compare how well each home in your prospective neighborhoods fulfills your wish list.

Find a dedicated real estate agent who knows the market. Work with an agent who understands which factors are most important to you. Your agent should also be experienced in helping you negotiate a fair price with the seller, including submitting and finalizing a legal purchase agreement. A good agent should provide insight and background in helping you make an offer, negotiate price and finalize details.

Make a well-informed offer. You should be familiar with recent sales prices of comparable homes in the area, market trends and perhaps even how motivated a particular seller might be. Your agent should write and present a purchase agreement to the seller, along with an earnest money check. Buyers often include a contingency specifying that a home inspection be conducted by a reputable company and that the final report be approved by the buyer within a specified time period.

At Allsteel Credit Union, we’re committed to providing you the resources you need to make your next home your best home ever. That’s why we’ve partnered with CU/America Financial Services, a highly experienced and trusted national organization that can help you with everything from understanding your home-loan options to closing your loan.

When you’re ready to begin your home search and get preapproved for a mortgage, call CU/America Financial Services at 800.351.0449 — and be sure to say you’re an Allsteel Credit Union member.

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