"We generally look for a stable two-year job history, but we know people have lost jobs in the past few years so we are looking for a re-established job history if someone has been unemployed," Walton says.
Home prices and rental rates
Schindler says potential buyers should research their housing market to determine whether owning is more affordable than renting or the other way around. In some markets, demand drives up rents, while a glut of homes for sale drives down prices.
"A rent-versus-own calculator can be a good resource, but generally these will show you the maximum mortgage you qualify for at the best rates," says Walton. "Determining how much you want to spend on rent or a mortgage should be a personal decision."
Responsibilities of homeowners
"Buyers need to make sure and factor in the maintenance costs of homeownership, which can run from 1 (percent) to 4 percent of the home value per year," Schindler says. "They need to realize that housing costs also include homeowners insurance, perhaps flood insurance and homeowner association dues, not just the principal and interest on the mortgage payment."
Ready to buy?
"If you are a good, solid buyer financially, with savings, a steady income and job stability, and you can commit to staying in a home for the long-term, then the only thing to think about is whether you want to own a place to call home," Wilder says. "If all those pieces are in place, then it makes sense to buy now."