My husband and I decided that we were ready to buy our first home. We weren’t ready for all the complication, stress, and expenses. Here are some things that we learned that could help you.
Are you really ready to buy? A mortgage payment is a big thing; don’t just jump into it without careful planning. The house payment isn’t the only expense. You have to consider taxes and insurance bills also. How much can you afford? There are helpful links found on most realtor sites or on www.bankrate.com that use calculators to help you find out how much home you can afford.
Know your credit. Make sure you get a credit report from the three major agencies to prevent any surprises when you ask for a loan. If there are accounts that need settling, take care of that ahead of time to avoid any delays and headaches. Don’t let something minor like an old cell phone bill stop you from getting the American dream.
Shop around for a loan. After you determine how much home you can afford, start looking for lenders. Consider using a service like Lending Tree. Don’t forget to check with local banks. Make sure you pay attention to fine print like paying down points and what kind of mortgage you have fixed or variable. Do your research to see which is right for you.
Determine where you want to live. Research the neighborhood, the schools, and the community benefits. Is there a homeowners association? What about parks? Check with the local police to find out crime rate statistics. Ride around the neighborhood at different times of the day to see what happens where.
Decide what you want in your home. How many bedrooms, bathrooms, and living areas? Also consider how big of a yard you want. Put the things that are important to you in order from most to least on a list. You might find a home with a fabulous kitchen, but tiny back yard. Think about what you are willing to compromise on.
Start looking. Check with a realtor, read the newspaper classifieds, and attend open houses. Find the house that just wows you but makes you feel at home. Consider how it would feel living there, how practical the home would be for your family. Look at the homes around it. Check to see if the home is overlooked by any other homes, how much privacy you need or have.
Once you have found THE home, visit it again. I would recommend visiting the home at different times of the day over a few days. It will let you know what is going on around the home, and you might notice things you didn’t at an earlier visit. Make sure to find a reputable inspector to inspect the home. You want to make sure you are getting what you are paying for. Be realistic with your offer and about how much you can spend. Don’t get in over your head financially because another buyer outbid you. Ask about getting a home warrantee. Often times the seller will agree to pay the small fee and it gives you piece of mind.
Enjoy your new home! Having done a little work will help you make the transaction and move less stressful and enjoyable for your family.