12 Months Out
Check your credit score. Get a copy of your credit report at annualcreditreport.com. The three credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion) are each required to give you a free credit report once a year. Avoid last-minute bombshells by checking your score long before you’re ready to make an offer. And work diligently to correct any mistakes.
Determine how much you can afford. Lenders look for a total debt load of no more than 43% of your gross monthly income (called the debt-to-income ratio). This figure includes your future mortgage and any other debts, such as a car loan, student loan, or revolving credit cards.
Make a down payment plan. Most conventional mortgages require a 20% down payment. If you can swing it, do it.…