Our Real Estate Blog
There’s a lot of things to think about before buying a home--some financial, others personal. Most people tend to focus on one or the other. However, both are instrumental in choosing the right house and buying at the right time.
In this article, we’re going to talk about some of the ways you can determine if you’re ready for homeownership. We’ll discuss things like credit scores and down payments, but also important life factors like your career and future plans.
Getting your finances in order
There are a few simple things you can do right now that will help you understand if you’re financially secure enough to start looking at houses. First, you’ll want to look up your credit score.
Lenders strongly consider your credit when determining how much risk is involved in lending to you. A higher credit score can not only get you approved for a mortgage, it can lower your interest rate and make you eligible to borrow without having to pay private mortgage insurance.
The amount of money this saves seems trivial in the short term, but over the lifespan of your loan it can save you tens of thousands of dollars. So, read a free credit report and if your credit is lower than 700 start finding ways to improve your credit.
In the meantime, you’ll want to save for a down payment. While it’s possible to buy a home with a small or no down payment, it can come back to haunt you in the form of interest as you pay off your loan. Furthermore, many lenders won’t pre-approve you unless you make a down payment of a minimum amount (often 20% of the loan).
If you have a high credit score and you’ve saved for a down payment, another thing to check off your list would be proving your stable income. This can be difficult for the self-employed, contract workers, or people who have recently changed jobs.
Lenders want to see that you have a stable income history to ensure that you’ll be able to pay your mortgage each month. If you recently changed jobs or are in between jobs, it could be to your benefit to wait 3-6 months before getting pre-approved. In that time, you can continue to raise your credit and save for a down payment, further increasing your chances of getting a low-interest loan.
Preparing for homeownership
While the financial aspects of homeownership are important, so are the personal aspects. You’ll want to consider several life factors before buying a home.
First, think about your longterm goals. Do you want to live in the same area for the next 10 to 30 years? Will your career bring you to different regions or will you attend school somewhere else? These questions will help you decide if it’s a good time to buy or a better investment to save money while renting.
If you have a family (or plan on having one soon), you’ll also have to find a way to balance all of your living needs.
Finally, ask yourself if you have time for homeownership. Many people who are used to renting aren’t aware of the amount of time and money it takes to maintain a home. You’ll have more bills, you’ll have to mow your own lawn, and you’ll be responsible for maintenance of your home.
Buying a home is one of those things in life that requires you to take a certain order of steps to complete the process. First, you’ll need to save up some money for a down payment and all of the other costs that go along with buying a home. Next, you’ll take a look at what you can afford and perhaps get pre-qualified. Then, you’ll hire a realtor and begin searching for properties. Finally, you’ll make an offer, sign for the mortgage and close on the home. After that, you’ll probably buy some furniture and paint the walls to make yourself feel at home.
Would you ever dream of making that big home purchase without actually seeing the property first? One of the most time-consuming parts of the home buying process is that of viewing homes and visiting property after property.
There are actually many reasons that a buyer might buy a property without seeing it first. With the Internet, it’s fairly easy to get an idea of what a house might be like. Too, if you’re an investor, it’s sometimes worth the gamble to scoop up a property at the right price in order to score a great deal.
It’s also usually not detrimental to buyers who are trying to get a home in a high competition market to go after places they really love immediately. The early bird does get the worm, right?
Properties in distress may be in poor condition, but for the right buyer can be a great deal. Banks want to get rid of these places as soon as possible due to the expenses incurred by keeping them.
Not all properties that are bought sight unseen are fixer uppers. Some properties can be bought in the pre-construction phase. These homes haven’t been built but are already on the market available for purchase. Many times, buying properties this way can be cheaper than buying the new construction home after it’s built.
There are obviously many risks to buying a home sight unseen. First, pictures can be deceiving. You never really know what you’re walking into until you see it. Photographs can easily hide major damage. Until a home is physically inspected, you may not know what the costs will be to repair it.
The same risks apply to new construction homes. The layout of the home may not be what you’re looking for, or the home may not include the features that you want.
When you do decide to buy a home sight unseen you need to weigh the risk versus the reward in the transaction. It can be a valuable decision, in the long run, to take a chance on buying a home that you haven’t been able to physically inspect.
As you go on the house hunt, you’re likely to attend many different open houses. After awhile you can get confused as to what you have seen and where you saw it. Each open house or home showing is only a short window of time. As a buyer, you’re trying to get the feel for a house. Being an observant home shopper can help you to avoid a lot of problems down the road. Check out some of the biggest red flags that you need to look out for when you attend an open house.
The Candles Are Burning Bright
You walk into an open house and see a lovely candle lit on the kitchen table. While it may make you feel all warm and fuzzy, it’s not always a good sign. Candles are a great way to mask odors. There could possibly be a musty odor coming from the sink, the basement, or another part of the house. This spells hidden damage and possible danger for you as a homebuyer. While the home inspection should pick up on things like this, you don’t necessarily want to get that far in the process. The art of masking odors could be a sign that the sellers are trying to hide something.
Be Your Own Inspector
As you walk through the home do you notice squeaky floor boards, cracks in the walls, cracks in the ceilings, or a drippy faucet? Maybe you see some patches on the walls or mirrors and paintings that seem out of place? These are all issues that could be signs of a greater problem. Keep in mind that no house is perfect, but you should do a little investigating on your own while walking through the house at showings.
The Home Doesn’t Appear Cared For
Curb appeal is one thing, but a home that looks unkept is a sign of a larger problem for you. Has the lawn been mowed? Is the fence in disrepair? How does the home appear from the outside at first glance? There are plenty of ways that you can fix up a home to make it your own once you buy it, but the question is just how much of a challenge are you up for? There is always a chance that you’ll have large maintenance costs when a home hasn’t been properly maintained by the previous owners.
Searching for homes and going to open houses can be fun. It can also be an educational experience to help you narrow down what you’re looking for and what you can handle as a homeowner.
Believe it or not, the process of buying a home can become long and complicated. And if you're not careful, you may encounter many hurdles that prevent you from acquiring your dream residence.
Lucky for you, we're here to teach you about the ins and outs of buying a house and help you simplify the process of going from homebuyer to homeowner.
Now, let's take a look at three common misconceptions associated with buying a home.
1. You will be able to acquire a house in a matter of days.
The process of locating your dream home is unlikely to happen overnight. Instead, a homebuyer usually will need to perform extensive housing market research to discover a residence that meets or exceeds his or her expectations.
Typically, a homebuyer will look at several houses before he or she can find the right residence. This homebuyer then will need to submit an offer on a house. And if a home seller accepts the homebuyer's proposal, a home inspection will need to be completed before a home purchase is finalized.
It is important to set realistic expectations for your home search. In most instances, it may take a few weeks or months to find your perfect residence. But with a diligent approach to your home search, you'll be able to discover a house that can serve you well for years to come.
2. You will be able to buy a home for less than a property's initial asking price.
Understanding the differences between a buyer's market and a seller's market is essential for a homebuyer.
In a buyer's market, many high-quality residences are available. This market usually favors homebuyers, and in many instances, enables property buyers to secure great houses at budget-friendly prices.
On the other hand, a seller's market features a shortage of first-rate properties. As a result, this market favors home sellers, and many homebuyers may compete with one another to secure the best houses.
Regardless of whether you're operating in a buyer's or seller's market, it is paramount to avoid the temptation to submit a "lowball" offer on a residence. By doing so, a homebuyer can minimize the risk of missing out on an opportunity to acquire his or her perfect residence.
3. You can find your dream home without help from a real estate agent.
When it comes to buying a house, the early bird catches the worm. Therefore, an informed, persistent homebuyer is more likely than others to locate a terrific home at an affordable price.
Ultimately, working with a real estate agent is ideal. With a real estate agent at your side, you can receive expert assistance throughout the homebuying journey.
A real estate agent will set up home showings, keep you up to date about new houses as they become available and much more. He or she also will respond to your homebuying questions and ensure you can acquire a stellar home in no time at all.
Take the guesswork out of buying a house – collaborate with a real estate agent, and you can make your homeownership dreams come true.
If you plan to buy a house, it helps to take an honest approach to the homebuying journey. In fact, there are many reasons to remain open and honest throughout the homebuying journey, including:
1. You can set realistic expectations for the homebuying cycle.
If you're honest with yourself, you can determine exactly how much that you can spend on a residence. Then, you can tailor your home search accordingly.
Furthermore, an honest approach is ideal to ensure you can maintain realistic expectations as you pursue houses. No house is perfect, but an honest homebuyer will realize this before he or she embarks on a home search. As a result, this homebuyer may be better equipped than others to discover a terrific house that matches his or her expectations.
2. You can resist the temptation to spend beyond your means.
Oftentimes, it helps to get pre-approved for a mortgage before you enter the housing market. If you pursue houses with a mortgage in hand, you can establish a price range for your home search, thereby reducing the risk of spending too much on a house.
When it comes to getting a mortgage, you'll need to be honest with prospective lenders. These financial institutions will perform their due diligence to ensure you are qualified to receive a mortgage. And if you are dishonest with lenders, you are unlikely to get the mortgage you need to acquire your ideal house.
3. You can speed up the homebuying journey.
The homebuying journey may prove to be a long, drawn-out process if you're not careful. Fortunately, with an honest approach to buying a house, you can limit the risk of encountering time-consuming homebuying hurdles.
For example, if you are honest with yourself about where you want to live, you can refine your home search to particular cities or towns. This will enable you to keep track of available houses in certain areas, resulting in a fast, efficient home search.
The aforementioned list highlights some of the key reasons to be honest with yourself and others as you pursue a house. Of course, if you need extra assistance as you search for your dream home, you may want to hire a real estate agent too.
A real estate agent is a homebuying expert who will be direct and forthright with you throughout the homebuying journey. As such, a real estate agent can help you take the guesswork out of purchasing a house.
Usually, a real estate agent will meet with you and learn about your homebuying criteria. This housing market professional then can tailor a home search to help you identify your dream residence. And if you have any homebuying questions, a real estate agent can respond to these queries immediately.
Perhaps best of all, a real estate agent will provide honest, unbiased recommendations as you proceed along the homebuying journey. This housing market professional will simplify the homebuying process, ensuring you can acquire a top-notch house that you can enjoy for years to come.