Homebuying On the Horizon? 4 Ways to Prepare Now

Getting organized and planning ahead can help prospective homebuyers achieve their real estate goals.

The year ahead is full of opportunity to achieve goals. And for some, a major goal in 2023 is to buy a home.

To help the process go as smoothly as possible, prospective homebuyers can start to prepare long before it’s time to search for a house. From organizing finances to finding a compatible real estate agent, it’s best to get a head start.

Looking to buy a home in 2023? Consider these four ways to prepare now.

1. Get your finances in order

For starters, check in on your credit score. When it comes time to apply for a mortgage loan, credit score is one factor lenders consider to determine your eligibility. A better credit score can help you get increased access to financing options and ultimately a more desirable mortgage rate.

Research loan options in advance, too. RE/MAX President and CEO Nick Bailey shares that in today’s market, a standard 30-year fixed-rate mortgage isn’t a homebuyer’s only route and suggests they look into alternate options like an adjustable rate mortgage (ARM), too. There are also specific loan programs for various cohorts, including veterans and military personnel. It’s helpful to get pre-approved by a lender prior to home shopping as it can set realistic expectations and help determine a budget.

Saving up for a down payment is one of the most important parts of preparing for purchasing a home – but there are other costs to consider along the way. Ideally, in addition to a down payment, prospective homebuyers will save up for other fees, including closing costs, moving costs, and more. Once living in the new home, it’s best practice to have funds set aside for regular maintenance and timely repairs.

2. Find a trustworthy real estate agent

With their experience and expertise, a real estate agent can be a homebuyer’s best asset in ensuring a smooth transaction. Seek out an agent that knows the area well, has a proven track record of success, and is a compatible fit.

Not only is a real estate agent knowledgeable when it comes to helping finding clients the right home, but they also can help negotiate with sellers and recommend services in the area for financing options, moving services, and more.

Best of all, work with a real estate agent you trust. According to a BrandSpark® survey of consumers, RE/MAX is home to the most trusted agents throughout the U.S.* and Canada**.

3. Consider what you want in a home

Take time to determine wants vs. needs in a future home. Whether you’re a first-time homebuyer who’s done with renting, or a current homeowner looking to upsize or downsize, assess your current dwelling for clues as to what to prioritize in a living space.

Is more storage a must? Does the need for a garage top all else? Creating a list now of these features can help identify – or rule out – properties when it’s time to start the home search.

4. Start area research

To help narrow down the home search radius when the process begins, do your due diligence in advance to figure out which areas meet the needs of you and your family. Some people may be moving to be closer to work, school or family and can start researching commute times to these locations (especially during rush hour!). And for those who have a dog, being near a park may be important.

Research can be especially important for those moving from farther away, some of whom may be purchasing a home sight unseen. Use tools like online maps, Google street view, and local town and city websites to determine what areas have to offer.

When you’re ready to look for properties, head over to remax.com or download the RE/MAX Real Estate Search App.

*Voted most trusted Real Estate Agency brand by American shoppers based on the BrandSpark® American Trust Study, years 2023, 2022 and 2019.

**Voted most trusted Real Estate Agency brand by Canadian shoppers based on the BrandSpark® Canadian Trust Study, years 2023, 2022, 2021, 2020, 2019, and 2017.

Article originally appeared on RE/MAX.com.