Buying Step 1: Are You Ready to Buy a Home?
Knowledge and experience are the keys to successful real estate transactions. The Internet is an enormous library of valuable real estate related information. Doing your research to gather knowledge — as well as working with local REALTORS® whose expertise and experience can interpret and guide you through the information — can be essential to your success in buying a home that is right for you.
Planning is one of the keys to making the home buying process easier and more understandable. With research and planning, you’ll be able to anticipate requests from lenders, lawyers and other professionals, and you’ll move more easily through the home buying process.
Do You Know What You Want in a Home?
Whether or not you are a first-time home buyer, you need to ask yourself: why do I want to buy? Do you need to move, or is buying an option (and not a requirement)? What property features do you want that you do not have now? Do you have a purchasing time frame?
Whatever your answers, the more you know about the real estate marketplace, the more likely you are to effectively define and achieve your real estate goals.
Once you get an idea of what you want in a home, it is very helpful and practical to talk to an experienced REALTOR® who knows the local markets, current market conditions, and the many facets of the complex business of real estate. An agent can answer your questions, give you a realistic picture of the market, and help you clarify your real estate goals.
Do You Have the Finances to Buy a Home?
It is important to get prequalified for a mortgage before you begin your house hunting quest. This way, you will only view homes you can afford and get excited about.
Homes and financing are closely intertwined. Financing is the difference between the purchase price and the down payment and is commonly referred to as debt or the mortgage. There are a many different kinds of mortgages and different lenders, so be sure to shop around to make sure you get the mortgage that best meets your needs and at the best price.
In addition to a down payment, purchasers also need cash for closing costs (the final costs associated with completing the transaction). Some mortgage programs not only allow the purchase of a home with no money down, but also underwrite closing costs.
While some people purchase with little or no money down, it means higher monthly mortgage payments, so most homebuyers choose to put down some cash.
As for closing costs, in buyer’s markets, it may be possible to negotiate an offer that requires the owner to pay some or all of your settlement expenses. Speak with a REALTOR® for details.
Get Your Financial House in Order: Establish Your Credit
You need good credit to get a mortgage. For at least one year prior to purchasing a home, you should assure that every credit card bill, rent check, car payment, and other debt is paid in full and on time.
Prepare yourself for the complex adventure of buying a home: do your research, work with a REALTOR®, plan ahead, know what you want (and what you can afford), and establish your credit. This will make your real estate experience run more smoothly.