Lowering Debt Can Help Atlanta House Shoppers More Than Homebuyer Tax Credit

You wouldn't run the Atlanta Marathon without training first, right? Then why would you buy a house - probably the biggest purchase you'll make in your entire life - without getting your finances in shape?

Yet that's what thousands of Americans could be doing as they rush to sign the paperwork on their first home by April 30, the last day to qualify for an $8,000 first-time homebuyer tax credit - or $6,500, if you're an existing homeowner who's lived in your previous residence for at least five years.

But there's no need to feel bad if you didn't make the deadline, say Atlanta bankruptcy attorneys. In fact, taking the time to ensure you're financially prepared will make it easier to buy - and retain - a home than any cushy tax write-off.

That's because buying a house isn't just about qualifying for a loan, or even being able to afford your mortgage payment. Remember, you also have to afford property taxes, homeowner's insurance, utilities like water, electricity and garbage - and of course the inevitable maintenance issues that arise (you never realize just how much you appreciate your landlord until she's gone). And you should probably have enough money saved up so that if an emergency arises after you've become a happy homeowner, you can continue making all these payments somewhat comfortably.

If it sounds like a lot to worry about, it is. But it's also entirely possible. How? By making sure your credit is in good shape before you start the homebuying process. That means ensuring your credit report is accurate, adjusting your budget so that you can afford to pay the bills on time every month and using a modest amount of credit each month - i.e. not exceeding your limit.

But maybe most important of all, it means lowering your debt burden instead of adding to it. If you're not already paying more than the minimum on your credit card bills, it's time to start. Since most minimum payments cover little more than interest, you usually need to pay more to actually start paying off your balance. Not only will a lower balance raise your credit score (which will help you qualify for a loan in the first place) but it will also free up more of your paycheck each month. As your balance goes down, so will the interest you owe - that means less money due with every bill.

Worried you can't afford to increase your payments and lower debt? With bankruptcy, you can't afford not to. Bankruptcy can provide a realistic way to pay down debt, so you can start rebuilding your credit. Find out how bankruptcy can help you get closer to a debt-free future - and a home of your own - when you try a free personal debt analysis with a bankruptcy attorney in Atlanta.

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