In the market for a new home? Here’s what to do now to set yourself up for success in the new year

It looks like it will be another competitive year for homebuyers.

The market isn't expected to be as frenzied, but prices are still predicted to rise. Home value growth will be down from a projected 19.5% in 2021.

Jessica Lautz, vice president of demographic and behavioral insights at the National Association of Realtors, said that concern about rising mortgage rates is fueling competition in the marketplace.

She said to get your ducks in a row now if you want to get in next year or before interest rates rise.

Mortgage rates are expected to increase.

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Kevin Parker, vice president of field mortgage at Navy Federal Credit Union, said any increases shouldn't be significant if you are looking to buy in the next six months to nine months.

It is still a great time to buy because rates are historically low. If someone needs more time, I don't think they will have a big difference in pricing.

Here are some things you can do to find a home in the new year.

The debt-to-income ratio is the amount of debt you have relative to your income. Lautz said to pay down debt before you start house hunting.

Use any year-end bonus money or cash gifts to pay it off. If you don't have debt, put your cash into savings to pay your down payment.

Your credit score is one of the factors that affect the type of loan you get. It also affects the interest rate you receive and how much money you need for a down payment.

By checking your credit score before you go, you will know if you need to make any changes to increase your score.

You should get a copy of your credit report to make sure you don't have any errors that affect your credit score. Consumers can get their credit report up to once a week for free from the nation's three largest credit reporting firms.

Jeff Tucker, a senior economist at Zillow, suggests that you look for a real estate agent who knows your market.

They will be able to give insight on the conditions in neighborhoods and cities you are looking for.

If you want to preapprove a mortgage, you need to reach out to a lender as soon as possible, at least to ask questions and find out what they need from you.

He said that they like members to understand the process.

You can use an online calculator to figure out how much you can afford. You will want to know how much money is needed to close, since there are fees that are due in addition to your down payment.

You can get preapproved for a mortgage before you start house hunting, since you will need it before you submit a contract for a house.

Lautz said that first-time buyers may not be aware of low down payments.

The down payments on the FHA loans are as low as 3.5%. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development has a website and other local resources that may be of use to you.

Lautz said that research can help you.

People put their house shopping on hold during the holidays or hunker down in the winter. This may be a good time to enter the market.

The spring housing season has started earlier and earlier each year, but buyers don't jump back into the market until March.