Writing out your New Year’s resolutions? If you’re thinking of buying a home in 2016, it’s time to add these five resolutions to your list:

  • Get your financial house in order: Good credit is key to getting a mortgage at a reasonable interest rate. If it’s been more than a year, find out what your credit score is. You can improve your credit by paying your bills on time, working with a no-fees housing counselor, and beefing up your credit literacy. Free online resources can help, such as Freddie Mac’s CreditSmart online training.
  • Figure out how much you can afford. What do you earn? What do you spend? How much do you have in savings? Answering these questions will help you learn whether you are financially ready for homeownership. Make a budget and use free online tools and calculators to determine how much you can afford and the amount you have for a downpayment. If you’re short, reduce optional expenses and set up a monthly, automatic deposit into your savings account.
  • Explore your mortgage options. Don’t assume you don’t have enough for a down payment or won’t qualify for a mortgage without 20 percent down. In fact, about 40 percent of today’s homebuyers are making down payments that are less than 10 percent and a recent study found that 87 percent of U.S. homes would qualify for down payment help.

Find out if you’re eligible for any local or state down payment assistance programs. Remember, some options may be as low as three percent. But keep in mind that if you’re not putting at least 20 percent down, you’ll pay extra each month for mortgage insurance. Contact several mortgage lenders to shop around and get the best deal.

  • Get pre-approved for financing. It’s highly recommended that you work with your lender to get pre-approved before you begin house hunting. Pre-approval will tell you how much home you can afford and can help you move faster and with greater confidence in competitive markets.
  • Rely on professionals. The typical homebuyer will look at 10 homes over a 10-week period so finding and working with the right team is critical. Housing counselors, realtors and lenders all play an important role in the home buying process. These professionals have the expertise to advise you every step of the way.

With some firm financial resolve, you can make your dream of homeownership possible in 2016.

For more tips and resources, visit myhome.freddiemac.com.