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Make 2015 the Year You Get Off Your Butt and Buy a House

Treat your home-seeking experience seriously and make finding your new home a reality.

New Year’s resolutions are in full effect. An overwhelming number of us have committed to hit the gym, sweat it out, and shed the extra pounds we managed to pack on over the holidays. Eating, drinking, and then more eating — it’s time to get serious!

Getting in shape is the standard New Year’s resolution, but by February, the new gym membership is languishing and we’re back to eating pasta for dinner. Forget all that sweaty talk, let’s set a goal that we can really work toward: committing to finding and buying a home in 2015. So what can you do to ensure this is the year you score your dream home?

Tell people

“Making yourself accountable to your friends and family is one of the best ways to reach your goals,” says Molly Cain, an experienced life coach and Forbes contributor.

It makes total sense, doesn’t it? Sharing your plans with your friends and family gives you a group of instant cheerleaders and makes you more beholden to the goal. So take the plunge, hop on the interwebs, and start updating your social media profiles.

You can even give yourself a public deadline for extra accountability — let everyone on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter know that this is the year you will be hosting Friendsgiving in your new home.

Seek referrals

Working with solid real estate professionals is a critical component to a smooth homebuying process. Begin asking your network of contacts for a referral for a real estate agent — but only if they had a positive experience. Take the time to interview and learn about the agent’s experience and geographic specialty, as well as discuss his or her communication styles and habits.

Elizabeth Weintraub, a broker-associate with Lyon Real Estate in Sacramento, CA, suggests taking it one step further and asking the agent to provide references from previous clients. “Everyone has references; ask for them.”

Get your credit in check

We all know how vital our credit history is when purchasing a home. If your credit is pristine, congratulations! If not, then do yourself a favor and start the cleanup process now. Start by reading these nine steps to boost your credit and heed these words: “If you think you can get your credit spruced up and ready to go in a matter of days, think again.”

Credit agencies are unwieldy bureaucracies and take time to navigate, so planning far in advance is the key.

Apply for a mortgage

Once you have identified the mortgage professional you will be working with, begin the loan application process immediately. Not sure how to choose whom to work with to finance your home purchase? No problem. Follow these tips to select the best loan officer or mortgage broker.

Having an approved loan application and a prequalification letter in hand before searching for a home gives you a serious advantage when making offers. Jump this financial hurdle early in the process and you’re well on your way to achieving your goal in 2015.

Get visual

There’s nothing like some good old-fashioned daydreaming to spark your motivational mood. Buying a home is a visual process — begin browsing house interiors and take note of what kindles your interest.

Have you always wanted to sip your morning coffee on a wraparound porch or watch movies in your personal media room? These are important aspects to consider when conducting your home search. Pin images, bookmark sites, or use a homebuying journal and actually write down (gasp!) your finds. Whatever you do, allow your creativity to flow and inspire your next step toward buying your new home.

Make a list

The best advice I gave buyers during my many years as a licensed broker in the Seattle area was also the simplest: make a list of the “like to have” and “must-have” items you’re looking for in a home.

To find your ideal home, you must be clear on what you’re searching for. Think of your “like to have” items as flexible, whereas your “must-have” items are deal breakers. As in, don’t even bother showing our family of four — including Gertrude, our 130-pound Saint Bernard — any homes without a yard. You get the idea; now add in your house interior research to build your list.

By treating your home-seeking experience as seriously as any other goal, you can make your resolution a reality in 2015. Remember, even the smallest step each day gets you closer to achieving your goal.

And don’t forget, all your friends are counting on you to host Friendsgiving this year — so get busy!