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What can I do now to be ready to buy?

Buying a home right now might be challenging — touring in person is inadvisable in many cases, and prohibited in many areas due to public health orders. Job or economic uncertainty may also have you thinking twice about buying. But, there are still steps you can take now so you’re ready to act when the time feels right.

1. Find your price range
Zillow’s Affordability Calculator can help you determine what you can realistically afford to spend on a new home. Just plug in your income, monthly debt and down payment for an estimate.

2. Keep saving
If possible, continue setting money aside for your down payment. The amount can vary: It can be as much as 20% of the purchase price, but it also can be lower with conventional loans or if you qualify for an FHA or VA loan. You’ll also need funds to cover closing costs, moving and other expenses.

3. Check your credit
Your credit score can impact the interest rate you qualify for. You can request a free copy of your credit report from any of the three major credit reporting agencies. Review it carefully and check for discrepancies. Work on improving your score (by paying down credit card debt, for example), and avoid taking out large loans during this time.

4. Gather info and advice
Look at homes online to see what’s available in your price range. Think about your must-haves and nice-to-haves so you can focus your search when you’re ready to take the next step. This is also a good time to reach out to your agent who can provide helpful neighborhood and market information.

5. Identify pre-approval materials
A pre-approval letter is usually valid for 60-90 days, so you don’t need it until you’re closer to buying. But make sure you have (or can get) the documents you’ll need, such as tax returns, W2s, pay stubs and bank statements. Lenders may also want to see evidence of your down payment. If you’re getting help from friends or family and the money isn’t in your account, you may need to secure the funds prior to pre-approval or provide documentation showing when the funds will be available.

6. Get pre-approved
If you think you'll be ready to buy in the next 60-90 days, you can start the pre-approval process. Our preferred lender can help you determine how much you can afford and get you pre-approved for a loan.