Is 2014 the year you plan to buy a new home? Then, now is the time to set a plan in action. There are a few home buying resolutions you need to make to ensure your credit and money matters are in order, and you’re getting the best bang for your buck. Here are the top 5 New Year’s resolutions to help you get the most out of your 2014 home buying experience.

  1. Know your credit history and score. Get a free copy from each of the credit reporting bureaus once a year from AnnualCreditReport.com (you have to pay for your score). Knowing what your score is will help you before you apply for a loan. If your credit score is low — lenders consider borrowers with a score above 760 or 780 the best borrowers — then work on eliminating any outstanding debt or errors on your credit history.
  2. Find the real estate agent that’s right for you. It’s important to surround yourself with a trustworthy real estate team who will help you find the right property for your needs, at the right price, in the right neighborhood. Take your time, do your research, trust your gut, and create a lasting partnership with your real estate agent.
  3. Build a better budget. Set a realistic goal for the home you want to buy. Think about your current expenses and determine a price range from there. Once you have a target price range, consider how much you need to save for a down payment, and start budgeting accordingly for when you have a mortgage to pay.
  4. Educate yourself. Have your real estate agent explain all the steps in the home buying process. Understand terms like appraisal, closing or settlement costs, and fixed-rate mortgage. Research and shop around for the best loans you may qualify for in order to get the best deal possible. Talk to several lenders before signing any application. The more information you have, the better.
  5. Enjoy the process! Buying a new home is a huge, exciting endeavor. Don’t forget to keep it positive. Come up with a realistic list of what you’d like in your new home, and have fun searching online for homes that meet those needs.