So You Want to Buy a House………….Now What???
You saved up & calculated..…. cut back on vacations and dining out, resisted buying that new couch or sports car….and the result is (drum roll please…) you have that down payment for your first home purchase! Good for you!!!!!………….Now what??
OK – pull up a chair, take a deep breath, and let me help walk you through what you need to do to get started.
1. First you need to decide where you want to live – what sort of community are you looking for?. How much of a commute do you want? Are you a city person, or do you prefer the quiet suburbs? Make a list of towns that might work for you. Drive around or ask friends who might live there. Get a sense of the neighborhoods. Call the board of education, and get school information. Stop in at a local restaurant or coffee shop, and get a feel of the area, and a look at yout potential future neighbors!
2. Decide if you want a single family home, or a townhome in a condo community. Are you ready for the responsibility of owning a single family home (mow the lawn, paint the exterior, clean the gutters, shovel the snow), or do you prefer to pay a maintenance/homeowner’s association fee, and let someone else take care of the exterior maintenance? Remember, owning a home involves more than just paying for the mortgage and taxes.
3. Come up with a reasonable price range. Make sure to include the cost of property taxes, insurance and PMI (known as private mortgage insurance) if you are putting down less than 20%. If you are currently renting, remember when the sink leaks or air conditioning breaks, you can call the super. When you own a home, you will be paying for those repairs. Make sure to allow for maintenance and unexpected repairs.
4. Interview and select a Realtor to work with. Ask friends for recommendations. Check websites, or go to a few open houses, and see if anyone seems like the kind of person you can relate to. You need to feel confident in the agent you select, and have a comfort level, too. You will be spending a lot of time with this person, and you need to make sure they will have your best interests in mind Your agent can also help you come up with a reasonable price range based on your wants and needs.
5. Sit down with a lender (you agent can help you find one) and let them guide you as far as how the bank will perceive you, and just what programs are out there for you. The lender should run your credit in order to help determine how much you will be able to borrow. Get PRE-APPROVED for a mortgage. Better yet, apply, and have your commitment in place, waiting for you to find the home of your dreams. The stronger you look financially, the more appealing you will be to the sellers. With these figures in mind, along with your lifetstyle needs, you can come up with a reasonable figure. I suggest that you begin your search for a home in the LOWER end of your range. Why stretch or spend more if you don’t have to!!
6. Ask the agent to walk you through the process for buying a home in your area. I always take time to explain to my buyers, before we begin looking at homes, just what is involved in the home buying process. Will you need a real estate attorney? How is the closing handled? Can your agent offer you a list of home inspectors, or any other inspectors that might be needed? Get a list of these vendors ahead of time, so that when you find a home you fall in love with, you will be ready to act. Know what to expect ahead of time!
7. Familiarize yourself with real estate terms (check out my blog relating to this). Understand what the expectations will be as far as escrow and other contract contingencies (all good words to learn about!!).
Well……..so now that you’ve prepped and done your homework… you’re ready to get out there., and start looking!