Buying a home can be nervewracking, especially if you’re a first-time home buyer. Not only is it probably the biggest purchase of your life, but the process is complicated and fraught with the unfamiliar lingo and surprise expenses.
To make the first-time home buying journey a little less stressful, NerdWallet has compiled these 5 tips to help you navigate the process more smoothly and save money. We’ve divided our list into three sections.
1. Pick the right neighborhood
Finding the right neighborhood is just as important as locating the right house. Research the schools, even if you don’t have kids, since that affects a home’s value. Look at local safety and crime statistics. How close are the nearest hospital, pharmacy, grocery store and other amenities you’ll use? Also, drive through the neighborhood on various days and at different times to check out traffic, noise and activity levels.
2. Make the most of an open house
Use this as another opportunity to scope out the neighborhood and your potential neighbors. During the open house, pay close attention to the home’s overall condition and look for any smells, stains or items in disrepair. Ask a lot of questions about the home, such as when it was built, when items were last replaced and how old key systems like the air conditioning and the heating are. If several other potential buyers are viewing the home at the same time as you, don’t hesitate to schedule a second or third visit to get a closer look and ask more questions.
3. Buy a home for tomorrow
It’s easy to look at properties that meet your current needs. But if you plan to start or expand your family, it may be preferable to buy a larger home you can grow into. Consider your future needs and wants and whether this home will suit them.
4. Let little things go
When you’re looking at a home, it’s easy to get caught up on superficial details like paint color, fixtures, and carpets. These features are easy to change once the home is yours, so don’t let those little details get in the way.
5. Check your credit
When you’re taking out a mortgage loan, your credit will be one of the key factors in whether you’re approved, and it will help determine your interest rate and possibly the loan terms.
So check your credit before you begin the home buying process. Dispute any errors that could be dragging down your credit score and look for opportunities to improve your credit, such as making a dent in any outstanding debts.
This article originally appeared on NerdWallet