7 Important Pointers to Remember When Buying a Home
Buying a home is a challenging yet fulfilling process. If you’ve decided that you want to become a homeowner, here are some of the most important steps you need to know about:
- Pre-approval. Getting pre-approved is one of the first and most important steps to homeownership. When you buy a house, you will most likely take out a mortgage to help finance your purchase. But before you can get the actual mortgage, a lender will look at your finances, including your income, credit history, debts, and assets to determine the maximum loan amount you may qualify for. Pre-approval isn’t binding and doesn’t guarantee a mortgage, but it will give you a good idea of how much house you can afford. A mortgage pre-approval also tells sellers that you’re a serious and credible homebuyer.
- Budgeting and managing finances. There are added costs in the home buying process that you need to prepare for. Down payment, earnest money deposit, property taxes, homeowner’s insurance, and closing costs are just some of these additional expenses. Make sure you have enough cash on hand to cover these costs. Additionally, consider other homeownership costs on top of your monthly mortgage amortizations, including regular maintenance and homeowners’ association fees. Factor these into your budget to avoid financial problems down the road.
- Mortgage shopping. Your credit score is an essential factor in qualifying for a mortgage and in determining the loan terms you can get. According to Experian, an average credit score ranges from 580 to 669. Anything higher than 669 is considered good to exceptional. If you need to improve your credit score, get a copy of your credit report and look into areas that can be improved in order to pull your credit score up. If your credit score falls below the ideal number, don’t worry. There are a number of government home loan programs that can help aspiring homebuyers with low credit scores or can’t afford a high down payment.
- Searching for homes. There are plenty of ways to look for homes for sale. A simple Google search in your chosen neighborhood or area can give you a list of potential properties. Just make sure the sites you look at are affiliated with the Multiple Listing Service (MLS), a database tool used by real estate agents to share property listings. Doing an internet search, however, can return dozens, even hundreds of results. Sorting through these can take up all your time and even cause you to miss out on some excellent opportunities. The fastest and most effective way to find the right home is by working with a real estate agent who’s knowledgeable in the area you’re interested in. Provide them with your criteria for a home and they can help you narrow down your choices faster than if you do it yourself. Look for homes that fit your lifestyle, your ideal location, and your ideal neighborhood. While shopping for homes, always keep your budget in mind. Know what you can afford and use it as one of your main criteria during the home search. Another useful home shopping tip is to avoid getting carried away by your emotions. When you fall in love with a home, you tend to overlook important points like the price, location, and any red flags. Be as objective as you can and always seek advice from your Realtor.
- Negotiating with the seller. Negotiating with a seller can be pretty intimidating, especially if you’re buying a home for the first time. This is one more reason why you should work with an experienced Realtor. Your agent will not only help you determine a competitive offer price for a home, they can also negotiate with the seller on your behalf. And if you can’t get a lower price for the property, your agent can help you find other ways to get a good deal, such as negotiating for a home warranty, a flexible closing or moving date, or for the seller to pay the closing costs.
Whether you’re purchasing an existing home or a new construction, getting the property inspected is an important part of the home buying process. A professional home inspector will be able to identify any issues with the home’s structure and systems that you may not be able to spot on your own. Some of the problems to watch out for are:
- Mold or mildew
- Faulty plumbing or pipes
- Crooked doors or windows
- Poor roofing condition
- Poor or improper heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning systems
- Outdated electrical wiring
- Water-related problems
Before the sale becomes final, take one last walk-through of the home. Turn each light fixture on and off, flush the toilets, open and close all the doors and windows, and test each appliance to see if it’s working properly. You need to make sure that the seller has fixed or replaced any issues found during the home inspection. Once the home has passed the final walk-through, you can officially close the deal and move into your new home!
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Let the Warner Robins Home Search team help you on your journey to homeownership. Contact us today to start.