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If you are a first-time homebuyer, you may be unaware of the process and the amount of time necessary to complete each step from starting out to moving in. This timeline can help you avoid surprises and be prepared. If you have some experience with buying, read on you may find information that can simplify your next purchase.Countdown: Six Months and Earlier Even before you start shopping for a home, take a look at your financial picture. At least six months before you plan to buy, pay down your credit card debt. Credit card balances not only incur steep interest payments, mortgage lenders look unfavourably on outstanding debt.

If you have more than one credit card, for example, a major credit card and a secondary card such as a store credit card, consider paying off and closing the account with the store. Your spouse should do likewise. Most stores offer relatively unfavourable interest rates. Mortgage lenders may also consider two credit cards double the potential debt risk.If you have any other outstanding debts, you may need to pay them before obtaining a mortgage. Lenders will be viewing your credit report. You can obtain a copy of your credit report from a few sources including Equifax, TransUnion Canada and Experian .In order to pay off debt and save for a down-payment and other fees, you will most likely need to devise a budget. There is no hard and fast rule about budgets each person and family has their own unique spending patterns. As a good rule of thumb, try to save at least one-third of your current rent each month. This may mean cutting back on restaurant meals, new clothes or the "extras" that seem insignificant but add up. An excellent way to keep track of expenses is to use a spreadsheet to record expenses, income and purchases. This way you will know where your money is going and where to make cutbacks.3 to 4 MonthsThis is the stage at which you should consider your needs and wants. Make a list of what you consider essentials in a new home and those features that are optional.