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Buying a property isn’t a decision that you make overnight. It takes years of preparation and planning, especially if you want to buy a property at a great price and location, and take out a loan that is well-suited to your needs and circumstances. So if you want to buy a property in 5 or 10 years’ time, here are some things you can do today that will let you achieve that goal in the future:

1. Take it easy on your credit card & personal loan debt.

Debt isn’t necessarily a bad thing, such as when you use it to buy an investment property. However, if your debt is mainly due to impulse buys or buying things that you don’t really need, then you have to take it easy from now on as this may affect your credit rating. In the future, any lender that you submit a loan application to will refer to your credit rating when deciding whether or not to lend you money. If they see that you are taking up more debt than you can actually afford, then there’s a good chance that they’ll turn down your application.

Another reason for this is a more practical one. If you train yourself to be more prudent with your expenses today, it will be easier for you to adjust several years down the road when your mortgage repayments are added to your budget. In other words, you’ll be able to learn to prioritise your expenses because you know that you’ll have to set aside some of your money for your repayments.

Additionally, if you have several credit cards right now, this may be a good time to start letting go of majority of them or consolidating this debt so that you can work towards paying it off.

2. Pay your bills on time.

Lenders will also want to know whether they can trust you to pay your mortgage repayments on time. Again, they will refer to your credit rating on this one. So starting today, make it a point to pay your bills on time, and if you have overdue debts, ensure that you settle them immediately.

It may also be a good idea to get a free copy of your credit report. This will give you an idea of your credit rating, and to see if there are issues with it. If you see, for example, that you have an unpaid debt, then you can either settle it, or get in touch with the lender or the organisation to which you owe the money to see if there are other remedies that will let you pay the debt without putting a strain on your finances.

Tracking your credit rating and avoiding bad habits that hurt your rating are things that are best done today, not several years down the road when you’re already applying for a home loan.

3. Show genuine savings.

Just because you have enough money to purchase a property doesn’t mean that the lender will automatically approve your loan application. Naturally, the banks also want to know whether you’ve really saved up for it. Due to this, they might ask you to show genuine savings, meaning, savings that you have built up over the course of several years instead of overnight. What’s important to them is that you can show them that you are indeed smart and have control over your finances.

Saving up gradually, starting today, is a good idea, because it costs a lot of money even to get the required deposit for a property these days. Lenders will typically require you to provide a deposit equivalent to 5 – 10% per cent of the property’s purchase price. So if you want a house worth $500,000, it means that you need to have at least $25,000 to $50,000 saved to take out a loan.

4. Keep track of the housing and lending market.

Education can also give you an edge if you want to become a property owner in the coming years. That means it’s a good idea to study the housing and lending market today so you’ll be at least familiar on things such as the best locations to buy a property if you’re after a healthy capital growth, and what kind of loan might suit you in the future.

Preparation is key if you want to get the best deal from your dream home. So remember to keep your credit rating healthy, give yourself enough time to save up money for your deposit, and educate yourself about the housing and lending market, as these will give you an edge as a future home buyer.