There have been so many times I wanted to write a book after listening to my clients, past clients, fellow Realtors, family and friends regarding the in’s and out’s of buying a home from the lending process all the way through to the closing. Some of the stories are infuriating while others were laughable and I have to say that my own personal experiences have included a wide array of emotions. Don’t you wish you had a magic wand you could wave and all experiences regarding the home buying process would go just perfect? After all these years of running my own business I realize that most of the concerns, aggravations and pitfalls could be avoided when we take just a bit of time to educate ourselves and listen to those who have the experience to help us.
Here are just a very FEW of the things you can do to make your home buying experience the best it can be:
1- If you do not plan on STAYING PUT for at least a few years then home buying may not be for you and renting may be your best option. It is likely you will lose money if you choose to sell too soon.
2- Do NOT even think about looking at homes until you have made sure you are credit worthy. Without a preapproval you are wasting your time and getting your hopes up without having any idea as to what type program you can do, how much you can ask the seller to pay on your behalf in closing costs, how much you can afford in a payment, if the home qualifies for the type mortgage you can do, how much you will be required to put down if any,. There are many different types of programs and you must know which one you qualify for before viewing homes. I cannot tell you how many times a potential buyer has called and they have been searching for homes for months and have no idea of their purchasing power and many times they could not buy at all because they had no idea how bad their credit really was. It is IMPERATIVE to talk with a lender FIRST prior to viewing homes. It could take many months to get your credit to where it needs to be before you will be approved for a loan.
3- Make sure you have some money SAVED. Going into a home buying situation with absolute no funds is opening the door to disaster later down the road. Once you go under contract on a home you will want to conduct inspections such as a home inspection and termite inspection etc….The lender will also require you to pay for an appraisal on the property so at the very least you will need several hundred dollars and that is only if you can do a 100 % program. If you do not qualify for a 100 % program then you will likely be required to do an FHA or conventional loan and you will be required to pay a minimum of 3.5 % of purchase price down or more depending on your credit score. Making sure you have some funds saved prior to purchase will give you peace of mind and make your home buying experience much less stressful.
4- Do not PUSH your affordability range. Buy within your means. Only you really know what this is. Do not allow the lender to push you into a price range that you are not comfortable with. Learning to live within your means allows you the comfort of knowing you can spend time with family doing other things besides spending it all on a mortgage payment.
5- If you have children or plan to have children school district may be very important to you. Do not forget this when searching for a home. Interviewing the schools may be a very important part of deciding where you really want to live.
6- NEVER go it alone. Always hire professionals to help you when you plan to purchase a home. Experience does matter and hiring an experienced BUYERS AGENT is invaluable to you from the loan process all the way to inspections, title search, walk through and closing. There are many issues to deal with during the home buying process. Don’t even try to do this alone.
7- Have your BUYERS AGENT provide you with comparable sales on any and all properties you are interested in so you know that the home you might purchase is well worth the investment. Buying a home that needs work in an excellent neighborhood is a great investment. Buying a home in a declining neighborhood in excellent condition at a premium price is not.
8- ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS conduct at minimum a home and termite inspection. This is a very small price to pay for peace of mind. Regardless of whether the property is being sold in all as is condition or not this will give you the information you need to make an informed decision as to whether you feel you can proceed with the purchase and will go in with your eyes wide open knowing the things you need to address.
9- Plan for the future. Do not purchase just a house. It should be a home to you. Think about YOUR lifestyle and how you live your life each day. Do not allow your family and friends to dictate to you what that should be. Examples: You know you shouldn’t buy a home with a huge yard to maintain in a restricted neighborhood if you are never home to maintain it or cannot afford someone to maintain it for you, a large kitchen is a big deal to someone who loves to cook so don’t settle for a tiny kitchen, if you have trouble climbing stairs already and find a good deal on a 2 story that does not mean you should purchase a 2 story unless it has a master on main level, you find the perfect home but it is an hour drive to work- only after a few weeks you will tire of this drive, do you desire to live close to shopping and amenities or is it important to you to live in a rural non restricted area?
10- Be DETERMINED. Buying a home is one of the most important things you will ever do for yourself and your family. No matter what you do PAY YOUR MORTGAGE on time and pay extra payments if you can to pay the mortgage down as quickly as possible. Do not allow your wants for material things outweigh your desire to be DEBT free. To struggle for the RIGHT things is to be commended and applauded. Do not allow yourself to get caught up in going into debt for things that do not bring added value to your life.
I hope these few things add value to your life and you have a wonderful week!