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Let's face it – paying monthly rent for your tiny apartment is no longer feasible. Instead, you need a bigger place to live, i.e. a house that you can enjoy for years to come. As a first-time homebuyer, exploring the real estate market may sound like a fun, exciting opportunity – and it is! However, you need to prepare for the housing market, and by doing so, you'll be able to improve your chances of finding your dream residence quickly and effortlessly. So what does it take to find the right home? Here are three ways to boost your chances of buying your ideal house: 1. Save Money Before You Buy a Home. You'll likely need to find a lender that can offer you a mortgage with an interest rate that fits your budget. And if you save money before you buy a house, you could improve your chances of getting a mortgage with a lower interest rate. Typically, having enough money to cover several months worth of a home's mortgage may make you a better candidate for a mortgage than other potential homebuyers. It also is important to keep in mind that saving money now may help you pay closing costs and other fees that frequently arise during the homebuying process. 2. Look at Both Your Income and Debt. Ideally, you'll want to establish a budget as you prepare to explore the real estate market, as this will allow you to determine which houses you can afford. When you create your budget, be sure to consider both your annual income and outstanding debt as well. Evaluating these factors will enable you to better understand your yearly expenses and ensure you're able to search for homes that fit your budget perfectly. Don't forget to consider your future earnings as you develop your budget, too. For instance, if you're a student who already has a job lined up after graduation, you may be able to handle a larger monthly mortgage payment. On the other hand, if you have a baby on the way, you may want to account for the expenses associated with a newborn as you pursue a residence. 3. Monitor Your Credit Score. For homebuyers, your credit score reigns supreme in the eyes of lenders. Thus, spending some time monitoring and improving your credit score may make it easier for you to move one step closer to landing your dream house. Remember, you're eligible to receive a free copy of your credit report from each of the three major credit reporting agencies (Equifax, Experian and Trans Union) annually. And if you review a copy of this report, you can understand where your credit score currently stands. If your credit score is low, you can improve it by paying off any outstanding debt. Furthermore, if you find an error in your credit report, be sure to notify the agency that provided the report to you to ensure you can fix this mistake; otherwise, the error could impact your ability to buy a house. Being a first-time homebuyer sometimes can be challenging. But if you use the aforementioned tips, you may be able to bolster your chances of purchasing your dream residence.

Believe it or not, flood insurance may prove to be a valuable investment, even if your home is not located in a floodplain. Flood insurance covers physical damage to your residence or personal items due to floods. Thus, flood insurance offers added protection for your home and belongings, making it exceedingly valuable for homeowners. As a homebuyer, you may search for residences that are located outside of floodplains. But it is crucial to note that even a few inches of water can cause substantial property damage in a short period of time, and a residence remains at risk for flood damage even if it falls outside of a floodplain. So should you purchase flood insurance for your new home? Ultimately, there are many factors to consider, including: 1. Your Homeowners Insurance Policy Homeowners insurance does not cover flood damage. As such, you likely will need to purchase a flood insurance policy if you want to safeguard your residence against flood damage. Those who reside in designated flood zones will need flood insurance. Meanwhile, flood insurance usually represents a valuable option for those who live in inland areas or away from major rivers as well. If flooding occurs, you'll want to do everything possible to protect your home and assets. And with flood insurance, you'll be better equipped to safeguard your residence and belongings in the event of a flood. 2. Your Umbrella Policy With an umbrella policy, you are able to add liability coverage beyond what is offered in a standard homeowners insurance policy. An umbrella policy also offers protection against major claims and lawsuits to further safeguard your home and assets. Although you might have purchased an umbrella policy for extra liability insurance, this coverage does not apply to flood damage. As a result, you will need to prepare accordingly if you want to insure your home against floods. 3. The Coverage Provided by Flood Insurance Although flood insurance offers value for homeowners, it may fail to deliver full protection for your home and belongings. Federal flood insurance policies commonly provide coverage up to a set amount for your home and possessions. In the event that your residence or belongings are worth more than these totals, you'll only receive compensation from your insurer up to the federally mandated amount. When purchasing flood insurance, it is important to consider the value of your home and belongings. If you feel that flood insurance coverage fails to meet your needs, you may want to consider excess flood insurance to increase your total coverage. Furthermore, discussing your flood insurance options with a real estate agent may be a great idea. This professional will be able to tell you if your new home is in a floodplain and offer tips to ensure that you find a residence that satisfies all of your needs. Floods can cause serious damage quickly, but homeowners who are ready for the dangers posed by these natural disasters can plan appropriately. Therefore, homeowners may want to consider purchasing flood insurance, as this coverage will protect their homes and belongings if flood damage occurs.