Have you noticed yourself eyeing up the For Sale signs in the area? Are you looking at your bank account and the loan interest rates? Thinking that this just may be the time to scout the possibility of home ownership? Does the prospect both excite you and make you break out in hives? Buying your first home is a big deal, and though others will tell you not to sweat it, it’s a process that shouldn’t be taken lightly. However, that doesn’t mean you need to break into a sweat every time you walk into a potential home. With a little insight into smart home buying, you’ll be well on your way to a new set of keys and a home to call your own. Here are five tips to help you in the process:
Before you start looking at homes, you’ll want to make visiting the bank your first priority. There’s no sense looking at houses if you’re unsure whether or not you can afford them. The mortgage originator will be able to set you up with a pre-approval letter that you can take with you when you begin browsing. The point of the preapproval letter is to let the real-estate agent know that you are truly a solid candidate for the property they are showing you.
To get pre-approved, the bank will pull your credit history. It’s absolutely essential that you’ve been paying your bills on time to have a good credit score. Those with the best credit history, of course, will be privy to the best loan rates and banks will be more willing to take a chance on you as a home-buyer.
It’s important that you know what you want, what you must have and what you can live without. Create a list to reflect these needs and wants, so you walk into a showing with the upper hand. Use your list to weed out homes that don’t live up to your must-haves, and keep in mind what you are willing to compromise on should a home fit your musts.
Now that you’ve got your pre-approval letter, you can start doing some early browsing online. Sites like Trulia and Zillow make it easy to view houses in your price range. Use these sites as tools to view what property taxes are like in the area you are interested in and to help you calculate what your monthly payment would be. Be sure to look at the property descriptions and compare them to your list of must-haves. If the home doesn’t cut it on paper, chances are, it won’t cut it in real life.
Once you’ve found a few that you’re interested in, contact your real-estate agent.
Your real-estate agent is one of the most important parts of the home-buying process. You want to find an agent you can trust to remain on your side and to work to your benefit. Look at their credentials to see what kind of real-estate coaching they’ve had. Don’t be afraid to ask for references from other clients who have used them. Bankrate.com has some great advice on selecting a real-estate agent.
Take the list of houses you were interested in and ask your real-estate agent to set up showings for those homes. Take your list of must-haves with you on the home tour. Be sure that all parties who have decision power are able to attend. Be open to what you see, recognizing that cosmetic changes are just that: cosmetic. Look, instead, at the structure of the house, the type of heating costs that are associated with the lot, and whether or not the neighborhood suits your needs.
Home buying is both exciting and nerve-wracking. Follow these five simple tips to get yourself going on the right track. Soon, you’ll be navigating your way to your own set of keys to the home of your dreams.