Owning a home is a big responsibility, one you need to make sure you're ready for. While you definitely want to ensure your credit score is as high as it can be and that your debt is a low as you can get it, there are certain habits you need to develop prior to getting into your home that will increase your chances of successful ownership. Here are two you should start working on now.
Paying Home Expenses
If you do nothing else, one of the best habits you can form right now is getting used to paying home expenses, even if you're currently renting a place. There's a good chance the cost of your mortgage and utilities will be higher than what you're currently paying, so you might as well learn how to organize your finances now to accommodate the increased amount.
For instance, if you're currently paying $800 a month in rent but you expect your mortgage will be $1,200, start putting the extra $400 away in a savings account. Not only will this help you save your down payment faster, but you'll get a good idea of what you need to do to ensure you can continue to pay your mortgage every month (e.g. work overtime, cut out unnecessary expenses).
Do the same with the utilities you expect to pay and other expenses you'll incur as a new homeowner (e.g. appliance warranties, homeowner's insurance). If you're not sure about the type of expenses you'll encounter, do some research online or contact a real estate agent for assistance.
Performing Do-It-Yourself Projects
Even if you purchase a brand new home, eventually things will break. Additionally, you'll probably be buying lots of furnishings and decorating your home to your liking. Unless you have the money to pay someone to do these things for you, it's a good idea to learn how to make minor repairs and complete other home maintenance projects to save money.
For instance, your water heater needs to be drained and cleaned on a yearly basis to prevent sediment buildup that could result in major damage and a hefty repair bill down the line.
You can learn a lot of things online by perusing home maintenance sites. Local home improvement stores will also often have free or low-cost classes for homeowners about various things, such as putting down flooring or installing a new toilet. Make a habit of researching and learning about these things so you'll be ready to keep your home in tiptop shape.
For more information on preparing yourself for home ownership or assistance with finding the right house for you, contact a real estate broker.