10 Steps to Take 6 Months Before Buying a House

Avoid costly mistakes by following these crucial steps before making a home purchase.

Woman holding up a set of keys
Updated May 28, 2024
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Buying a house can be enormously expensive, so it’s essential to be prepared before signing the dotted line.

Taking the proper steps before closing on a new home can eliminate financial stress and streamline the process.

Here are a few things you should do now if you plan to buy a house in the next six months.

Get pre-approved for a mortgage

Krakenimages.com/Adobe Couple applying for mortgage

Getting pre-approved for a loan will let you know how much money you can borrow from your lender for the house of your dreams.

In addition, sellers may be more comfortable knowing you can afford their home. In a competitive market, that can be a significant advantage.

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Save for the down payment

KMPZZZ/stock.adobe.com A hand puts coins into a piggy bank.

Before shopping for homes, ensure you have saved enough for a down payment.

Consider putting that chunk of cash in a stable, safe place, such as a high-yield savings account. With any luck, you'll even make a little extra money in interest as you wait to find your home.

Organize your finances

Masson/Adobe Couple looking at a computer

Buying a home is a great reason to focus on your finances. A home is expensive to purchase, and it's often costly to maintain as well. So make sure your investments, accounts, and other sources of cash are in good shape.

Estimate how much your monthly expenses will be. Then, create a budget so you know where that cash will come from when you own the house.

Build an emergency fund

Monkey Business/Adobe Someone fixing a wall

Saving for a down payment is important, but don’t do so at the expense of building an emergency fund.

An emergency fund is an essential resource that can help you cover the cost of sudden expenses. This fund can be a lifesaver when you must pay for emergency repairs.

Boost your credit score

Andrey Popov/Adobe happy african american man holding smartphone pointing towards excellent credit score

Your credit score is a crucial part of getting a loan. Those with good credit scores are more likely to be approved for a loan and usually get the best terms on loans.

Try to engage in good financial behavior in the six months leading up to a home purchase. Pay your bills on time and pay off debts. And don’t open any new lines of credit, which could ding your score.

On the other hand, don’t close existing credit card accounts, which can hurt your credit score. Use your credit cards responsibly, and don’t make any big financial moves.

Pay down debt

baranq/Adobe Someone making payments

Paying off debts puts you in a stronger financial position as you enter into a major purchase, such as buying a house. Clear away debt so you can focus on the new home.

Not only is it easier to manage your day-to-day finances if you're debt-free, but carrying less debt also can boost your credit score.

Narrow your options

F-Stop Boy/Adobe People looking at real estate listing

As you prepare to shop, focus on neighborhoods that interest you. Narrow your price range so you know which types of houses you should be looking at.

By eliminating specific neighborhoods from consideration and establishing certain price points, you make the shopping experience easier.

Get documents together

fizkes/Adobe Man organizing paperwork

A lender might ask you for many financial documents, so make sure you anticipate what they need and pull the information together now.

Gather documents such as your W-2 form and previous tax returns that show your income. Grab copies of bank statements or investment statements showing how much money you have.

A lender might use this information to confirm that you can make monthly mortgage payments.

Factor in closing costs

Natee Meepian/Adobe Man looking at budget

Remember that closing on a house doesn’t just mean bringing a down payment to the table.

You’ll also need cash for closing costs. Closing costs include application fees, homeowners insurance, title insurance, points, and the title search fee. But there are many others.

Pro tip: If you are worried about saving for closing costs, consider a side hustle or part-time job to make extra cash.

Find a real estate agent

BalanceFormCreative/Adobe A female real estate agent

Chances are good that you'll want a good real estate agent on your side to look out for you while you shop for a house.

A real estate agent will help guide you through the home-buying process. Don’t be afraid to interview different agents until you find the one who is right for you and understands your wants and needs.

Bottom line

hedgehog94/Adobe A couple holding a key

Putting some plans in place now can help you get the house you want six months down the line.

Try to get out of debt and take other steps to shore up your finances. Decide where you want to live and what type of home you want to live in.

Making moves like this today should make buying a home easier in a few months.

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Author Details

Jenny Cohen

Jenny Cohen is a freelance writer who has covered a bit of everything, from finance to sports to her favorite TV shows. Her work has been featured in The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, and FoxSports.com.