Purchasing a home is a huge commitment and not a decision you want to make lightly. That’s why it’s critical to arm yourself with as much knowledge as possible before applying for a mortgage. It can be overwhelming to keep track of all the factors that come into play when buying a house, but remembering these simple dos and don’ts will set you on the right track towards closing on your ideal home.

DO get pre-approved.

 Online pre-qualifications can save a lot of stress later on in the mortgage application process. Getting pre-approved provides you with an estimate of the price range you can afford, which helps narrow down your options when choosing a new home. Pre-approval also makes you look more appealing to sellers in comparison to competing applicants because it provides concrete evidence that you can afford the house.

DON’T shop outside of your budget.

As excited as you undoubtedly are to buy a home, it’s important not to rush into shopping and set yourself up for disappointment. Wait until you have been pre-approved to even start looking, or else you might end up wasting your time on a house that you later learn you can’t afford. Or, on the other end of the spectrum, you might find out after getting pre-approved that you can afford to spend much more on a house than you initially thought you could, and buying before you receive that information could mean settling for a subpar home.

DO keep your records in order.

Lenders want to know practically every financial detail of your life, so it’s wise to have just about every document imaginable within easy reach before you start applying for a mortgage. Be prepared to present your ID, employment information, bank statements, and documents relating to previously owned properties. You should also pay special attention to documents regarding any significant life events like marriage, divorce, changes to your name, or the birth or adoption of a child.

DON’T make any major lifestyle changes.

Big changes, whether they are positive or negative, tend to raise red flags in the mortgage application process and should be avoided if possible. You should not quit your job or switch to a new position (unless you are being promoted), co-sign someone else’s loan, change your name or address, or make any unusually large deposits in your bank account. If you absolutely must make any of these changes, make sure to document them as thoroughly as possible.

DO stay current on payments.

 Good credit is key to getting approved for a home loan, so it’s important to stay up to date on all your expenses. Be sure to continue making payments for rent, utilities, car insurance, credit cards, and any other bills you may need to take care of in a timely manner, not only to avoid accruing interest, but to ensure that your credit score doesn’t drop. You may also benefit from requesting free credit reports and making sure there are no errors on them.

 DON’T completely pay off your debts.

 It may seem counterintuitive, but as tempting as it is to eliminate as many debts as possible, you should not pay off any debts in their entirety or close any accounts unless your mortgage advisor specifically recommends that you do so. Also avoid opening any new lines of credit. All of these actions can have an adverse effect on your credit score, which is the last thing you want when applying for a mortgage.

 DO spend money like usual.

 Lenders look for applicants with consistent spending habits, so now isn’t the time to try to be more frugal. Use any credit cards you have just as frequently as you normally would to avoid any changes in your credit score.

 DON’T buy anything huge.

Of course, while you should be spending some money, it’s crucial to do so in moderation. Big purchases like cars, vacations, and expensive furniture not only leave you with less spending money in the future; they will also likely have a negative impact on your credit score. As a rule of thumb, try to keep all of your credit card balances below 30% of their limit.

 DO stay informed.

 The internet makes the process of buying a home much easier than it was in the past in many ways. Anytime you have a question, you have the ability to research the answer, and using this benefit to your advantage can make the whole experience a lot less intimidating.

 DON’T take everything on by yourself.

While the internet can be a helpful resource, a few hours of surfing the web are no substitute for professional expertise. Not only is trying to buy a house on your own highly stressful; it can lead to mistakes that damage your finances or cost you your dream home. Whether you’re just getting started on your search for a home or are well into the mortgage application process, don’t hesitate to reach out to the loan specialists at Cross Timbers Mortgage with any questions you may have.