As you prepare to buy or sell a home in the next year, the list can be  daunting of all the things you need to accomplish. Here’s a list of 7 important things you’ll want to do to get ready for that next step:

1.  Handle your credit horrors.  If you count yourself among  the number of 2013 wanna-be  buyers who experienced a financial glitch of any  degree during the  recession, now is the right time to start pulling your  credit  reports and doing a damage assessement and control campaign.

2.  Purge.  It’s time.  Time to get rid of all  that things you know qualify as clutter – all of the stuff you know buyers won’t  want to see when they tour your home, and all the stuff that you won’t want to  move to your next place. If you donate your junk before the end of the year, you  might be able to get a receipt and deduction for the taxes you file in 2013.

3.  Plan your prep. If you’re  thinking of selling your home in 2013, now is a great time to  start organizing  your list of home  preparation tasks that  need to get done before you put the place on the  market. Talk with your agent before you put a plan in place; they can help  you make  good decisions which projects to do (and which to forego), as well as  choosing finish materials and colors that will appeal to the broadest  segment  of buyers – to boot, they often can refer you to the most  cost-effective  contractors in your area for these sorts of pre-listing  projects.

4.   Save. More. There’s no such thing as saving too much cash up for your down  payment. If you  have a home to sell, you have no idea how much you’ll take away  from  that transaction until it closes. And even if you’re currently renting,  having maximum savings set aside allows you maximum flexibility in terms of  selecting homes, competing with other buyers, covering closing costs and even handling post-closing  repairs, appliances and property personalization.

5.  Collect your  gift money.  Buyers who get gift money from a relative to apply toward  their down payments  are often subject to seemingly strange and definitely  invasive  documentation requirements – the most onerous of which is to produce  copies of the gift GIVER’s bank accounts proving the source of the  funds. If  you know Mom, Dad, Granny or Aunt Bernie is going to chip in  some cash toward  your down payment in the Spring, consider asking them  to go ahead and give it  to you now, so you can put it in your own  accounts and begin “seasoning” it as  yours, which will help you avoid  all those documentation demands.

6.  Connect with an agent and a mortgage broker – stat.  Don’t wait until the month before you want to buy or sell to ring up  your  trusty agent and initiate the conversation. We have two fantastic mortgage brokers we work with in our transactions. Contact us today to get started on the mortgage process!

7.  Go Open House hunting.  If you’re selling next year, it’s  essential to get a real-life read on  what the competition’s like, everything  from what sorts of houses in  your area are listed at various price points to  what your target buyers  are going to be seeing on their way into or out of your  house.  There’s  no reality check on your own home’s preparation and  staging – its  overall readiness for listing – like putting on a buyer’s shoes  and  taking a tour through similar homes in your area.  And there’s no time  for this reality check like right now: when Open Houses are still  a-plenty,  you have more time to attend them, and you still have plenty  of time to process  your takeaways and incorporate them into your own  property  preparations. Open House hunting is also helpful for those who have home  buying on their  2013 to-do lists.  It’s the only way you can start  understanding how to  decipher the listings you see online into a reality-based  set of  expectations about a property.  It’s also the best way to get  indoctrinated deeply into the realities of what you get on your local  market  at various price points, and it’s the most impactful strategy for starting the  process of negotiating compromises with your co-buyers.

8.  Think  hard about your deductions, if you’re self-employed. In the wake of the  recession, most mortgage guidelines for  self-employed borrowers changed, so  that your income for purposes of  qualifying is assumed to be the average of  your last two years’ Adjusted Gross Income, as reported on your federal income  tax returns.  That  means lenders calculate your income after all your  business-related and other deductions, not before. So, yes,  this does  mean that maximizing your deductions may impact your ability  to qualify for a  home loan in 2013.  But them’s the breaks – better to  know this before you  file your tax return, in the event it might change  something about how you  file.  Loop your tax advisor, business  bookkeeper and mortgage broker into  your decision-making process about  your 2012 taxes before filing, if you’re  self-employed and plan to buy  or refinance your home next year.

Whenever it’s the ‘right time’ to buy a home, we’d love to meet with you to go over our home-buying strategy! 2013 is going to be a fantastic year of home sales in the U.S., so let us help you take that step to home ownership!