Buying a home is a process that can seem daunting and even a little scary to most first-time buyers. After all, being a homeowner is a huge financial and personal responsibility.
To make this lengthy process a bit more approachable, we’re going to break it down into five steps. While these five steps may be somewhat different for each person, depending on their own unique situation, they do comprise most home buyer’s experience.
If you’re interested in learning the steps you’ll need to take before owning your first home, read on.
Step 1: Know your long-term goals
Before you buy a home, you’ll want to have a clear understanding of what you, your spouse, and your family want from the next five or more years. You’ll want to make sure the area you’re moving to can provide things like career advancement and opportunity, good schools for your children, and so on.
These questions may seem obvious, but it’s an important conversation to have before making the long-term commitment of owning a home.
Step 2: Your budget and your needs
It might be tempting to hop online and start shopping for houses, but first you should get a clear idea of the size and cost of the house you’re looking for. This involves determining your budget, thinking about your credit and planning for your down payment.
Step 3: Mortgage pre-approval
Getting preapproved for a mortgage can be a great way to gauge the interest late and loan amount you’ll be approved for. You’ll need to gather paperwork, including income information (pay stubs), tax returns, and W-2 forms.
Be aware that lenders will run a detailed credit report. Since credit reports count as an inquiry, they can temporarily lower your credit score by a few points.
Applying to several lenders within a short period of time can make a significant impact on your score. However, it will start to rise again within a few months if you don’t open any new credit accounts or take out other loans.
Step 4: Get an agent
Real estate agents know the ins and outs of the home buying process better than anyone else. They’ll be able to guide you through the process and provide you with information that you can’t get anywhere else.
Step 5: Pick the right home for you
Now it’s time to start home shopping. However, before you begin, remember that getting approved for a loan doesn’t mean you must or should seek to spend the full amount on a home.
Plan for your needs, and keep the future in mind. Someday you might decide to upgrade, but in the meantime you can be building your credit and building equity in a smaller or more frugal home.
The process of closing on a home can seem lengthy and complex if it’s your first time buying or selling a house. There are several costs and fees required to close on a home, and while it’s up to the individuals to decide who covers what costs, there are some conventions to follow.
In this article, we’re going to talk about closing costs for selling a house and signing on a mortgage. We’ll discuss who pays what, and whether there is room for negotiation within the various fees and expenses.
But first, let’s talk a little bit about what closing costs are and what to expect when you start the process of buying or selling a home.
Closing costs, simplified
If you’re just now entering the real estate market, the good news is you can often estimate your closing costs based on the value of the property in question. You can ask your real estate agent relatively early on in the process for a ballpark figure of your costs.
Closing costs will vary depending on the circumstances of your sale and the area you live in. In some cases, closing costs can be bundled into your mortgage, such as in “No Closing Cost Mortgages.” However, avoiding having to deal with closing costs often comes at the expense of a slightly higher interest rate.
If you are planning to buy a house and have recently applied for a mortgage, laws require that your lender sends you an estimate of your closing costs within a few days of your application.
Now that we know how closing costs work, let’s take a look at who plays what.
Buyer closing costs
In terms of the sheer number of closing costs, buyers tend to have the most to deal with. Fortunately, your real estate agent will help you navigate these costs and simplify the process.
They can range from two to five percent of the cost of the sale price of the home. However, be sure to check with your lender for the closest estimate of your closing costs. It’s a good idea to shop around for mortgage lenders based on interest rates as well as closing costs charged by the lender.
Here are some of the costs you might be asked to pay as a home buyer:
Prepaid interest or discount points
Home inspection fee
Insurance and Escrow deposits
Seller Closing Costs
While the seller pays a larger amount of closing costs, sellers still have obligations at closing that can be just as expensive. The biggest expense for sellers is to pay the real estate commission. Commission usually falls in the vicinity of 6% of the sale price of the home. This covers the commission of both the seller’s and the buyer’s real estate agents.
The main takeaway? Buyers and sellers both share the burden of closing costs. While the buyer has more expenses to take care of, the seller pays for the largest costs.
Let's face it – buying a home in a hot housing market is no easy task. For example, if you wait too long to submit an offer on a house, you risk losing this residence to a rival buyer. On the other hand, if you rush to submit a home offer at or above a seller's initial asking price, you risk spending too much to acquire your dream residence.
Clearly, there's a lot to think about as you search for a home in a hot housing market. Lucky for you, we're here to help you overcome myriad homebuying hurdles and acquire your dream residence, even in a hot housing market.
Let's take a look at three tips to help you succeed as a homebuyer in a hot housing market.
1. Narrow Your Home Search
You know that you want to live in a specific city or town, but you still are uncertain about what type of house that you want to purchase. However, if you create a list of home must-haves and wants, you can narrow your house search and speed up the homebuying process.
Once you have a homebuying checklist in hand, you should have no trouble evaluating residences in a hot housing market. Then, you can check out these houses in person and move one step closer to submitting an offer to purchase your dream house.
2. Get Pre-Approved for a Mortgage
To acquire a home in a hot housing market, you'll likely need a mortgage. Thankfully, lenders are available that can teach you everything you need to know about a wide range of mortgage options.
Lenders can explain the differences between adjustable- and fixed-rate mortgages, describe exactly how a mortgage works and much more. That way, you can assess many mortgage options and select one that matches your finances.
After you obtain a mortgage, you can enter a hot housing market with a homebuying budget. This will enable you to further accelerate your home search and ensure you can quickly submit an offer as soon as you discover your ideal residence.
3. Collaborate with a Real Estate Agent
Navigating a hot housing market sometimes can be tricky, particularly for a homebuyer who is competing against dozens of rivals. But if you hire a real estate agent, you can receive comprehensive support as you pursue a home in a hot housing market.
A real estate agent is ready to assist you in any way possible. This housing market professional will offer insights into the real estate conditions in a particular city or town and help you map out your homebuying journey accordingly.
In addition, a real estate agent understands exactly what it takes to buy a residence in a hot housing market. He or she will help you put together a competitive offer on any home, at any time. And if your offer is rejected, a real estate agent will help you regroup and reenter a hot housing market so you can find your dream home.
Ready to buy a home in a hot housing market? Use the aforementioned tips, and you can accomplish your homebuying goals faster than ever before.
Ready to submit a home loan application? Ultimately, there are many factors to consider before you finalize your submission, and these include:
1. Your Outstanding Debt
If you have outstanding student loan, car or other debt, you should try to pay it off as quickly as possible. By doing so, you can boost your chances of securing a home loan that matches or exceeds your expectations.
Take a look at your outstanding debt and make a plan to pay down your bills. With a plan in place, you may be able to reduce or eliminate outstanding debt before you complete your home loan application.
2. Your Credit Score
A strong credit score will help a homebuyer get a terrific home loan. Conversely, an inferior credit score is unlikely to do you any favors after you submit a home loan application.
Learn about your credit score before you finalize your home loan application. Then, you can allocate the necessary time and resources to boost your credit score or correct any errors on your credit report.
You are eligible for one free copy of your credit report from each of the three major credit reporting bureaus (Equifax, Experian and TransUnion). Request a copy of your credit report, and you can understand where your credit score currently stands.
Also, if you find any errors on your credit report, contact the credit reporting bureau that provided the report immediately. This will allow you to correct any credit report mistakes and reduce the risk that these errors could impact your ability to secure a home loan.
3. Your Savings
It never hurts to save money, especially if you'd like to purchase a home in the near future. If you start saving today, you may be better equipped than other homebuyers to have the necessary finances in place for a down payment on a house.
In most instances, lenders will require you to have at least a small portion of the purchase price of a home available for a down payment. If you have thousands of dollars available for a down payment, you may be able to boost your chances of getting a "Yes" from a lender after you submit your home loan application.
Getting a home loan may seem like a long, arduous process. Fortunately, many lenders are available to help you secure a great home loan.
Meet with several lenders as you explore all of your home loan options. That way, you can learn about a broad array of home loan options and choose a home loan that matches your finances perfectly.
After you secure a home loan, you'll be able to move one step closer to securing your dream residence. Of course, if you need assistance during the homebuying journey, it never hurts to reach out to a real estate agent as well.
A real estate agent will do everything possible to help you acquire a top-notch residence at an affordable price. Thus, if you employ a real estate agent, you may be able to enjoy a fast, seamless homebuying experience.
One of the perks of moving out of an apartment into a home is having your very own outdoor space. Depending on how close to the city you live, you may not get much of a yard with your home. If you’re looking for that perfect outdoor space to dwell in, read on for some tips on buying a house with a yard. If you check the yard out, you could save yourself from facing problems further down the road.
Are The Trees In Good Condition?
While mature trees in a yard are a sure fire way to have privacy and shade, the trees must be safe. You want any trees in your yard to be healthy. Otherwise, during a storm, you may have an issue with falling trees. If you have a lot of trees in your yard, it may be a good idea to hire an arborist who can tell you if the trees are safe. Tree removal can be costly, so you’ll need to plan for this expense if your yard has many trees.
How Safe The Outdoor Living Areas?
You should check out any outdoor living areas the yard has. If the home comes with a patio, or gazebo the soundness of the structures should be checked. Any cement should be free of cracks or crumble.
The Layout Of The Lot
There is more to a yard than the size of a property. You should keep in mind where the home is situated on the lot. Is the front yard more prominent than the backyard? Is the home on a slope? Is there a chance water will pool near the foundation of the house? All of these questions are important for the long-term health of the property.
How Much Yard Are You Willing To Care For?
You need to know how large of a yard you’re actually willing to care for. For many buyers, a small yard is just enough. Other buyers aim to care for a large lawn the many flowerbeds. The larger the yard, the more possibilities you have. If you are willing to take the extra time and incur the additional expense that a large yard will cost, it could be a good feature to look for. Yard size may also narrow down your home search considerably.
Buying a home with a yard can be a great decision, all you need is to understand your own preferences and ability to care for properties of different sizes.