I want to buy a house. Where do I start?


Q: I am look­ing to pur­chase my first home and have no idea where to start. I used to have very poor credit but now I am in the mid 600s and have no debt. Do you think I will qual­ify and what do I need to do first? Thank you very much for your time.

–Cory, San Diego, California

A: I’m hon­estly not sure if you’d qual­ify or not given your cur­rent credit score.

Hav­ing said that, it’s impor­tant to know that your credit score isn’t the only fac­tor that will be con­sid­ered.  Lender’s will also look at your credit his­tory, your income, your income his­tory, how much you have in sav­ings, and your total assets, just to name a hand­ful of other considerations.

As for where to start, I wrote a blog titled Five Rules for Buy­ing a House (and How Far You Can Bend Them) that I’d encour­age you to read.  In it, I explain five things you should do before you buy a house:

  1. Have an emer­gency fund in place (3–6 months’ worth of expenses is ideal).
  2. Cre­ate and fol­low a bud­get (based on post-purchase expenses).
  3. Save up a big down pay­ment (20% is ideal).
  4. Have con­fi­dence in your job security.
  5. Be able to keep the house for a long time (at least 5 years).

These points should give you a good place to start in terms of fig­ur­ing out if you’re really ready to buy a house now or not. If you’re not, they’ll also serve as a good roadmap for you to follow.

Thanks so much for your ques­tion.  I hope this helps and I wish you all the best!


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Examples given are hypothetical illustrations and not an indication of the benefits or features of any USAA product. You should seek policies and advice based upon your own particular circumstances. Sample loans are for illustration purposes only and are not a rate quote, pre-approval, or commitment to lend.

Scott Halliwell and JJ Montanaro are CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ practitioners with USAA Financial Planning Services, one of the USAA family of companies. Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards, Inc. owns the certification marks CFP® and Certified Financial Planner™ in the United States, which it awards to individuals who successfully complete CFP Board's initial and ongoing certification requirements.

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