There are plenty of good reasons to buy a home -- financial stability, building equity in a place of your own, and not having to follow a landlord's rules. If you're eager to buy a home in 2022, here are four important tips to help make that happen.
1. Research home prices ahead of time
Home prices have soared this year due to high buyer demand and limited housing inventory. Come 2022, those circumstances could remain unchanged. It makes sense to research different neighborhoods in advance and see which ones have home prices within your financial reach.
Some buyers embark on a home search before looking at numbers. But it's better to take the opposite approach -- first figure out where you can afford to look, and then start driving out to see different homes in person. If you go the opposite route, you might fall in love with a home or town you can't afford.
2. Work on boosting your credit score
Chances are, you don't have the money to buy a home outright next year. Rather, you'll probably need a mortgage. The higher your credit score is, the more likely you'll be to get approved not only for a home loan, but for an affordable interest rate as well.
You can boost your credit score in a number of ways. First, make sure to pay all of your bills on time. Next, if possible, pay off a chunk of existing credit card debt, especially if you're carrying a high balance relative to your total credit limit across all of your cards. Finally, check your credit report for errors and correct those that could be dragging your score down.
3. Sock away extra money for a down payment
Because home values are so inflated, you should expect to pay up in 2022. And if you want to avoid private mortgage insurance (PMI), you'll need to bring a 20% down payment to the table for a conventional loan. If you don't have that much saved yet, work on boosting your cash reserves. A good way to do so is to get a side gig on top of your main job.
4. Be prepared for competition
Though housing inventory may pick up in 2022, there's no guarantee that will happen. It could also take months for enough inventory to hit the market to satisfy buyer demand. That's why if you're aiming to buy a home next year, you'll need to prepare to duke it out with other buyers. Now is a good time to read up on different strategies for winning a bidding war.
One step worth taking in this regard is getting a mortgage pre-approval letter. That sends the message you're a serious home buyer whose finances have already been vetted. And it may prompt a seller to accept your offer over a comparable one.
Though 2022 may end up being a challenging year to buy a home, there are steps you can take to increase your chances of success. Be sure to check off these boxes if your goal is to become a homeowner over the next 12 months.
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