Making a list of resolutions is as much a part of some people’s New Year’s traditions as watching the ball drop at midnight. We set goals to exercise more, eat less and eliminate  unhealthy habits. Unfortunately, nearly 80 percent of those who to make resolutions fail to keep them – particularly promises that involve quitting or giving up something, according to psychologists.

This month, while your motivation is high and your failure rate is zero, take stock of your personal inventory. If “buy a new home” is on your list of goals for 2015, act now to increase your chances of success by the end of the year. Here are three steps you can take to put yourself on the path to homeownership in 2015:

Decide what you want. As with any major purchase, the first order of business is to determine what makes the most sense for your situation.. How big of a home will you need? In what part of town do you want to live? Are certain school districts a consideration? What amenities are on your “must have” list? It can be helpful to write down all the information so that you can prioritize it later. Also, if you are planning to stay in the home long term, remember to take into account certain design features,  such as single-story layouts for older adults, and suites or casitas that can accommodate multigenerational households. 

Get your financial house in order. Once you have an idea what type of home you’re looking for, the next step is to figure out how much home you can afford. Since 90 percent of buyers finance their purchase, according to the National Association of Realtors, it’s important to take care of this piece of the process up front. Decide how much you can afford for a monthly mortgage payment. Develop a budget that includes money for a down payment, closing costs and taxes. And, consider meeting with a loan officer to get pre-approved before you start house hunting.

Choose a homebuilder. Visit recently constructed  homes and  communities in your target areas. Leisurely walk through the models, visit the sales centers and talk with sales associates. Ask plenty of questions and write down your impressions. Buying a new home can be an exciting journey. Partnering with the right homebuilder can make the trip even more enjoyable. 

(Editor’s Note: Andy Warren is president of Arizona homebuilder Maracay Homes, a member of the TRI Pointe Homes, Inc. (NYSE: TPH) family of homebuilders.  He serves on the Board of Directors and as an Executive Committee member with the Greater Phoenix Economic Council and is a past board member of the Home Builders Association of Central Arizona.  He is also a member of Greater Phoenix Leadership and an active member of the Urban Land Institute.)

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