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The whole country has its eyes on the Denver housing market right now, so you’re probably also considering making that big step. If you’re ready to take the plunge into the deep sea of home ownership, you’ll have some questions and you may not even know where to start. There is a lot involved when it comes to purchasing a home, so here are five great tips to help you get going. After all, your home is the biggest purchase you’ll make in your life, shouldn’t you spend the time to make sure you do it right?

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Know Your Credit

The first step in purchasing a home is to secure a home loan, which means you need credit. Good credit. Your credit score will help you qualify for the loan and can help you get a lower interest rate, saving you thousands of dollars over the life of the loan. Start looking at your credit report at least six months before you decide to purchase a home, as you may need time to clean up any blips or things that appear negative on your report. There are lots of sites online that offer you free credit reports, or you can always talk to your accountant or financial planner.

Find Your Down Payment

You may need to save for a while, but a down payment will also do a lot to help you secure the home of your dreams. There are lots of programs to assist with down payments, however, it depends on your qualifying situation and income. Talk to your mortgage lenders about the options that may be available for you, then check with your friends to see what worked for them in the past. You may just be made aware of programs you didn’t know existed. Of course, it’s also good to save up some cold, hard cash as that down payment as well, since the more you put down, the less you’ll have to borrow.

Find A Local Real Estate Agent

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As you look for different real estate agents to use, you may be tempted to hire someone from another area or, worse yet, from out-of-state. It’s important, however, to hire someone who is local, knows your neighborhood and can help you find the perfect home for you and your whole family. Of course, you’ll also need help navigating the tricky waters of purchasing the home itself, and a good agent will hold your hand through the whole process. Also, with Denver’s competitive market, it will be very helpful to have someone who really knows the ins and outs of property in the Mile High City.

Other Big Purchases

So you’ve been making decent money for a while and you’re ready to start spending some of that hard-earned cash on yourself. Go ahead, you deserve it! However, if your big purchasing plans include a home, make sure you avoid spending money on other big ticket items like cars first. Purchasing a car can actually lower your credit score at first, showing the recently acquired debt, which can hurt you when you go to apply for a loan. If you’re ready for some big purchases, get the house first, then work slowly on the rest.

Know What You Want

Once you’ve got all your funding secured, it’s time to start looking for your home. Make a list ahead of time of what you really want, and what you can realistically afford. Research all the different neighborhoods in Denver and get to know what types of people live in each place. Once you know what you want, communicate that to your realtor and you can really help narrow down the search. Of course, you’ll probably have to make some compromises when it comes to your full list, but it’s a great place to start and can really help your realtor find you the perfect home.

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Deborah Flomberg is a theater professional, freelance writer and Denver native. Her work can be found at Examiner.com.