Buying a house over the holidays? Don't sweat it.

Buying a house over the holidays? Don't sweat it.

Does the holiday season have you stressed? And do you also have plans to buy a new home during the holidays or the early part of 2018?


Fear not. My column is here to make the homebuying process a breeze – despite the craziness that comes with all the comings and goings of the holidays.


1. Budget

How much “house” can you afford? Keep in mind the money you plan to spend on holiday gifts, but also think about the mortgage payment you can handle month over month. Once you have a budget in mind, you can then begin to explore homes in the proper price range.

“Doing your own research on an area can help you streamline the process,” said Brock Johnson, a Realtor at Exit Realty Central. “Start tracking a few homes that you may like in an area several months before you are ready to get out there and purchase. Watch them to see what they end up selling for to make sure they fit into your budget.”

2. Prequalification

In most cases, a prequalification letter can be issued after the lender has spoken to the client to understand their financial picture. The lender is going to ask questions about your employment history, assets, liabilities, etc. to obtain a better understanding of your financial history. The lender will also run your credit report to understand payment history on your borrowed funds. This is why a strong credit score is important.

3. Preapproval

Even better than a prequalification is a preapproval, in which the lender can verify the information you have provided. By providing your tax returns, W2s, pay stubs, bank statements and other credit documents that may be needed, the lender can assess your file in a complete manner.

Preapproval is stronger than prequalification and gives you greater confidence as a buyer.

4. New credit accounts

It’s tempting this time of year to max out credit cards and open new cards or accounts, but these actions can affect your approval status for a home loan.

In short: Buy new furniture, appliances and even a car after you have closed on the home loan. You want your financial activity to look stable and trustworthy in the run-up to your home purchase. If anything looks out of the ordinary, the lending institution could have reservations.

5. Where do you want to live?

“Call the local police departments to ask about the crime in the area,” Johnson said. “All of this knowledge will help you and your Realtor find you the best home to fit you and your needs in the shortest amount of time.”

The holiday season is busy and hectic enough. Put this advice to use for a seamless, stress-free homebuying experience.

Shikma Rubin is a loan officer at Tidewater Home Funding in Chesapeake (NMLS #1114873). She specializes in lending for the millennial generation. Sign up today for Shikma’s free webinar, “First-Time Homebuyer Crash Course,” You can reach her at or 757-490-4726.