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Buying a home is a momentous occasion for any person. It’s the first step in a person’s life to gaining full independence. It’s often seen as a happy, yet stressful, time in a person’s life. Because of that stress, and the inevitable steep cost of buying a house, the entire process can seem very intimidating. But it can be done, and has been done successfully for decades. With that being said, I wanted to put together a list of tips and tricks for those on the hunt for their first house. Hopefully this list will make the ordeal a bit easier.

Get Pre-Approved Before House Hunting

If you’re house hunting, you’re probably really excited. There’s nothing wrong with that. It’s an exciting moment in your life. But don’t get so caught up in the hunt that you forget to get all of your ducks in a row first. Get pre-approved. Once you’re pre-approved, you have an understanding of how much money you can spend which gives you a realistic idea of the homes you can look at. Additionally, if you’ve been pre-approved for a loan, that can give you a competitive edge on bidding for a home. Sellers will take you much more seriously than hunters without pre-approval.

Don’t Let the Down Payment Scare You

You’ve probably heard that a proper home purchase requires a 20% down payment, right? Wrong. While making a down payment can certainly help, and even prevent you from paying a private mortgage insurance, you don’t need to make a large down payment. Believe it or not, you don’t even necessarily need to make any down payment at all. Don’t think that you need to save tens of thousands of dollars in order to make a down payment. It can postpone getting a home for far too long.

Check Your Credit Score

Your credit score is an incredibly important aspect of your life. You should be very aware of your score, and you can keep track of it by contacting the three major credit bureaus: Experian, TransUnion and Equifax. If you have poor credit, it could make applying for a loan a bit difficult. Making timely payments on your credit cards, student loans or other monthly bills can lead to an increased score. And that increased score will save you some serious headache in the future.