Buying a house is one of the single biggest financial decisions you will ever make. While it’s nice to daydream about your perfect home and scour the internet for available houses in your desired area, there’s a lot that goes into the process. Here are 8 tips for homebuyers to help you navigate the process.
Make Sure You are Prepared
Buying a home isn’t something you can just jump into. There is a certain amount of prep work that goes into the process. You need to have money saved up for a down payment. You may need to raise your credit score. The minimum you should be aiming for is a 680. Your lender will require a significant amount of documentation, such as pay stubs, a letter from your employer and bank statements. All in all, if you are not ready now, you should give yourself at least 12 months to prepare. Please give me a call if you need help finding out how ready you are.
Determine How Much You Can Actually Afford
Based on your information, a lender may preapprove you for a certain amount. That doesn’t necessarily mean that you need to go out and buy a house as close to that amount as possible. There are many factors that need to be taken into consideration. This includes your income, your current debts, your regular spending habits, homeowner’s insurance, taxes and more.
Figure Out What You Need and What You Want
Before you even start shopping around, create a list of things that you absolutely have to have, along with those that you can be more flexible about. For instance, maybe you have to have a garage or a basement, but you can live with carpeted floors instead of hardwood. It’s always possible to make some changes at a later date.
Think Long Term
Don’t think about what you need for your life right now. Think about what your life in the future. Do you plan on keeping the same job? Do you want to have kids? A house is a big investment. Make sure that you can see yourself still in that home with these changes in 5 to 7 years.
Don’t Get Deterred by Necessary Fixes
Some things, like the color of the walls in a bedroom, can be easily fixed with a new coat of paint or some wallpaper. But other projects, such as cabinetry or redoing the bathroom, have a much bigger price tag attached, especially when you add in the cost of labor. Don’t let that deter you from buying a house. Instead, factor the costs into the purchase price and see if it’s still within your price range.
Purchase Price is Just a Part of the Picture
The cost of the house is just one part of the picture. There are several other costs that get tacked on. You have homeowner’s insurance, property taxes and maybe even HOA fees to consider. Along with these, you also have to think about the cost of maintenance and repairs. Make sure you compare. Just because a house is less expensive doesn’t mean that it will automatically cost you less every month. A cheaper house may have higher property taxes that makes it more expensive each month that a more expensive house with lower property taxes.
Down Payments and Closing Costs
You will need to factor in down payments and closing costs. There have been several recent changes. For homes costing $500,000 or less, you can expect to have to put down a minimum of 5%. Closing costs vary. They can include such things as legal fees, home inspections and more. Make sure you budget appropriately for these items.
You Don’t Have to Buy a House Right Now
Being a homeowner is part of the American Dream. But that doesn’t mean you have to buy a house right now. Buying a house is a huge decision, and it’s not for everyone. There are so many things to keep in mind. Maybe you want the freedom to explore around a bit before you settle into an area. Be honest with yourself and what you really want before you make such a major financial investment.
If you are interested in buying or selling your home please contact me so we can evaluate your readiness together.