UFCU SPONSORED CONTENT — It’s no secret that the housing market in Texas is competitive. Between apps that update you each time a new home pops up on the market to virtual tours, there are more ways than ever to start searching for your dream home. Before you jump in and begin your search, make sure you avoid these four house-hunting mistakes so that you can have the best chance of taking home the keys.

Mistake 1. You aren’t prequalified.

In today’s market, where multiple offers are often made on a home, you need every advantage. The first thing you should do is speak to your mortgage lender and get a prequalification letter. A prequalification letter can set you apart and mark you as a serious buyer. This document shows the seller how much mortgage you can afford based on your income, credit history, and credit score. The letter translates to how high of an offer you can make that is conditionally backed by a reputable lender — essentially guaranteeing that you have the money. 

Mistake 2. You’re thinking about changing your job.

Lenders use your current income to approve you for a mortgage loan. They typically require at least a full month of pay stubs to verify your income and employment status, and prefer much longer to demonstrate stable employment. Any change in your status, even if it’s for a higher-paying job, can impact your loan approval. Wait until your mortgage is closed before making any changes.

Mistake 3. You apply for a new credit card.

A good credit score will help you secure a lower interest rate, which ultimately reduces the amount of interest you pay over the life of the loan. The lower your interest rate, the more money you save.  You might be tempted to open a new credit card or apply for a loan to show you’re worthy of credit, but that will lower your score. Also, make sure you’re on top of your monthly payments — being late by even one day can lower your score. If you’re concerned or unsure about your credit history, you can request a free report at AnnualCreditReport.com.

Mistake 4. You start buying new home furnishings.

Pinning furniture and decor ideas and searching for new appliances can be a fun part of home buying. However, you should wait to make any large purchases until your mortgage is closed. Just like changing jobs or opening a new credit card, any difference in your financial status can negatively impact your loan approval. Your lender will run a final credit check right before closing. Don’t spend money from your savings account or add to your credit card. With a little patience, you’ll be decorating in no time.

If you’re looking for additional financial tips and tools to better plan, spend, save, and borrow, check out PlanU by UFCU. You’ll find options that range from talking with a financial health expert to creating a personalized resource center to meet your needs.