HOW TO MAKE YOUR HOUSE HUNT A HAPPY ONE

When buying a home, making sure you can afford the purchase is the first hurdle to overcome, and that may be a lot easier to do, depending on where you live. Here's how to do it right: http://cnb.cx/1LbNus8.
  1. 1.
    Understand your needs vs. your wants
    Before starting the hunt, make a list of what you're looking for in a house. While you may want a Jacuzzi, you may really need a room for a home office.
  2. 2.
    Remember to take pictures
    The lovely video and photos on the real estate agent's website won't show the warts that you may find while touring the home. Put your smartphone to good use and take your own photos or videos inside and outside to help you remember specific details.
  3. 3.
    Give yourself a credit check
    Once you've found your dream house, check your credit. Your credit score is one of the most important factors lenders will look at to qualify you for a mortgage. Yet 6 in 10 Americans couldn't tell you their credit score if you asked them, according to a survey from LendingTree. Check your report for any mistakes, unpaid accounts or collections before applying for a loan. Correct errors and try to improve your score before putting in the application.
  4. 4.
    Shop around for a loan
    Banks offer different interest rates, and you want the lowest one you can get. Look at online banks as well as brick-and-mortars. Lower mortgage rates will help to reduce your monthly payments and allow you to qualify for larger loans. That way, even if you can't move to a less-expensive area, you may be able to afford a pricier home. That's good news this spring, as home prices may rise due to a record low supply of homes for sale. Happy house hunting!