If you plan on buying a home in 2018, it’s not too early to start preparing for the process. Today, I want to share seven steps that you can take right now to prepare for your home search in the new year.

1. Check your credit score. Mortgages are driven by credit scores. The stronger your credit is, the better your interest rate will be. You can check your score with any of the three credit bureaus; you get one free report from each every year.

2. Don’t open new credit cards. It may be tempting to open a new store card during the holidays, but doing so will negatively impact your credit score. If you plan on buying a house in 2018, don’t open any new accounts right now.

3. If you are comfortable doing so, ask for financial gifts this holiday season.Financial gifts from your family can help make your down payment a little easier.

“Do not open any new credit accounts.”

4. Interview real estate agents.This is an incredibly important step. I love it when prospective buyers want to talk to me so they understand how I work, how I communicate, and whether or not working together would be a good fit.

Several years ago, a prospective buyer sent me 20 questions for me to respond to in writing. Based on those responses, she then picked three agents to interview. It was a pretty comprehensive interview, and she has since purchased a home and became a friend.

5. Keep an eye on interest rates.Rates have been pretty steady lately and are still at historic lows, but it’s important to keep an eye on them all the same.

6. Find a lender.It’s really important that you start the mortgage process before you find your house, so start interviewing lenders now.

7. Get pre-approved. When you do choose a lender, make sure you get a letter of pre-approval. That way, when you do start looking and find the right house, you are prepared mentally and financially to take the next step and write an offer.

Hopefully, those seven steps will help you get started. If you have any other questions about buying a home in 2018, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me. I would be happy to help you!