Even if you’ve put your plans on hold, there’s a lot you can do right now.

Buying a home right now might be challenging — a shortage of homes and a highly competitive housing market might mean you’re sitting on the sidelines, while job or economic uncertainty may have you thinking twice about buying. Not to mention COVID-19 has created complications in the process, where touring in person may be inadvisable or prohibited due to public health orders. But, there are still steps you can take now so you’re ready to act when the time feels right. Here are six things you can do to prepare to buy a house, whether or not you decide to wait to make that offer.

1. Find your price range

The Jim Bottrell Team can help determine what you can realistically afford to spend on a new home.

2. Keep saving

If possible, continue setting money aside for your down payment. The amount can vary: It can be as much as 20% of the purchase price, but it also can be lower with conventional loans or if you qualify for an FHA or VA loan. You’ll also need funds to cover closing costs, moving and other expenses.

3. Check your credit

Your credit score can impact the interest rate you qualify for. You can request a free copy of your credit report from any of the three major credit reporting agencies. Review it carefully and check for discrepancies. Work on improving your score (by paying down credit card debt, for example), and avoid taking out large loans during this time.

4. Gather info and advice

Look at homes online to see what’s available in your price range. Think about your must-haves and nice-to-haves so you can focus your search when you’re ready to take the next step. Your agent should then ask you a series of questions to create your new-home wish list.

5. Identify pre-approval materials

A pre-approval letter is usually valid for 60-90 days, so you don’t need it until you’re closer to buying. But make sure you have (or can get) the documents you’ll need, such as tax returns, W2s, pay stubs and bank statements. Lenders may also want to see evidence of your down payment. If you’re getting help from friends or family and the money isn’t in your account, you may need to secure the funds prior to pre-approval or provide documentation showing when the funds will be available.

6. Get pre-approved

If you think you’ll be ready to buy in the next 60-90 days, you can start the pre-approval process. The Jim Bottrell Team works with the number one VA Loan Officer in the country, Scott Evans, and can help you determine how much you can afford and get you pre-approved for a loan.