January is often a time to hit the reset button, to start fresh. Sometimes, it’s a new approach to an ongoing goal.
And if buying a home has been an ongoing goal, the start of a new year can feel like a time of optimism. So if 2020 is going to be the year you finally buy a home, perhaps there are some home buyer resolutions to be made. If you haven’t made any such decisions yet, here are some to consider, especially for first-time home buyers.
Start looking now
The winter months might not seem like the prime time for home searches, but there are some advantages in shopping before the weather breaks. There might not be as many homes for sale as there are in the spring when more buyers tend to emerge, but fewer buyers also mean less competition for homes that are for sale now. Fewer buyers can also lead to more motivated sellers and more attractive prices, as slower foot traffic can make sellers eager to latch onto the buyers who seem interested.
Another reason to shop around in the winter is that when spring arrives, and more sellers put their homes on the market, you’ll already have a better idea of what you might want and might not want in a house. You might be more decisive than buyers who are just starting out in the spring, which might allow you to beat them to the punch on a great home. Starting now could be your head start.(Related: Hunting for Vintage Homes in Southern California)
If you expect a refund, get your taxes done early
A good percentage of Americans receive refunds on their income tax returns. Those who are expecting returns often have plans for that money before it arrives, and if you’re a potential home buyer, that tax refund can help with a down payment and closing costs on a new home. The sooner you get your taxes filed, the sooner your refund will come. So if you’re expecting one and looking to buy a house this year, then resolve to get your refund as early as you can. This is the year not to procrastinate.
Save your money
Just as getting a tax refund can boost your funds toward a down payment and closing costs, resolving to put money aside each paycheck can get you more ready for a home purchase. A lot of people will list “put more money into savings” as a New Year’s resolution, but having a specific goal (like being resolved to buy a home) can often make it easier to stick to the plan.
Get (and stay) on top of your credit situation
It’s not uncommon for someone who thought they’d qualify for a home loan to make an offer and only then find out that there are problems with their credit. That is avoidable by monitoring your scores fairly regularly and clearing up any mistakes or past due accounts as soon as you notice them. If you’re unsure of your credit standing but want to buy a home, this is the year to resolve to get on top of (and stay on top) of your credit situation. (Related: Six Tips for First Time Homebuyers)
Gather your resources
While it’s probably never too early to start looking at homes if you’re in the market to buy one, home buying often isn’t a linear, Step 1, Step 2, Step 3 process. Even if you’re not ready to start looking at homes, you can cross other to-dos off the home-buying list. That means gathering resources that will help you achieve your goal of buying a home, which might include cultivating relationships with real estate professionals, searching for down payment or first-time buyer assistance programs, getting pre-approval from a lender and more. Even if you’re not out on the road touring homes, you can resolve to be fully prepared “behind the scenes” when that time does come.
Remember, nobody achieves any goal without first setting one. And while most people’s New Year’s resolutions are fleeting, sticking to a few simple but important home buyer resolutions could help make 2020 the year you buy that home.