Our Real Estate Blog
Buying a home is a process that can seem daunting and even a little scary to most first-time buyers. After all, being a homeowner is a huge financial and personal responsibility.
To make this lengthy process a bit more approachable, we’re going to break it down into five steps. While these five steps may be somewhat different for each person, depending on their own unique situation, they do comprise most home buyer’s experience.
If you’re interested in learning the steps you’ll need to take before owning your first home, read on.
Step 1: Know your long-term goals
Before you buy a home, you’ll want to have a clear understanding of what you, your spouse, and your family want from the next five or more years. You’ll want to make sure the area you’re moving to can provide things like career advancement and opportunity, good schools for your children, and so on.
These questions may seem obvious, but it’s an important conversation to have before making the long-term commitment of owning a home.
Step 2: Your budget and your needs
It might be tempting to hop online and start shopping for houses, but first you should get a clear idea of the size and cost of the house you’re looking for. This involves determining your budget, thinking about your credit and planning for your down payment.
Step 3: Mortgage pre-approval
Getting preapproved for a mortgage can be a great way to gauge the interest late and loan amount you’ll be approved for. You’ll need to gather paperwork, including income information (pay stubs), tax returns, and W-2 forms.
Be aware that lenders will run a detailed credit report. Since credit reports count as an inquiry, they can temporarily lower your credit score by a few points.
Applying to several lenders within a short period of time can make a significant impact on your score. However, it will start to rise again within a few months if you don’t open any new credit accounts or take out other loans.
Step 4: Get an agent
Real estate agents know the ins and outs of the home buying process better than anyone else. They’ll be able to guide you through the process and provide you with information that you can’t get anywhere else.
Step 5: Pick the right home for you
Now it’s time to start home shopping. However, before you begin, remember that getting approved for a loan doesn’t mean you must or should seek to spend the full amount on a home.
Plan for your needs, and keep the future in mind. Someday you might decide to upgrade, but in the meantime you can be building your credit and building equity in a smaller or more frugal home.
Let's face it – the homebuying journey may prove to be an expensive experience. If you're not careful, you risk overspending to acquire your dream house. On the other hand, if you purchase a home without identifying underlying structural problems, you risk costly home repairs down the line.
Ultimately, it helps to establish a budget for the homebuying journey. If you have a budget in place, you can increase the likelihood of having the necessary funds on hand to overcome many potential homebuying hurdles.
You should have no trouble creating a homebuying budget, either. In fact, here are three tips to help you put together a budget for the homebuying journey.
1. Assess Your Financial Situation
If you intend to purchase a house in the foreseeable future, you'll want to take a close look at your finances. By doing so, you may be able to reduce your monthly spending and use your savings to accelerate the homebuying journey.
It often helps to assess your daily, weekly and monthly expenses. Then, you may discover bills that you can cut from your everyday budget.
For example, you may enjoy dining out regularly, but cooking at home may prove to be more cost-effective. And as you reduce your dining expenses, you can save money that you can use toward the down payment on a new house.
2. Obtain Your Credit Score
Believe it or not, your credit score can make a world of difference in your quest to acquire a house. If you check your credit score, you may be able to find ways to improve your credit score prior to kicking off a house search.
You are eligible to receive a free copy of your credit report from each of the three reporting bureaus (Experian, Equifax and TransUnion). Take advantage of this perk, and you can learn your credit score in no time at all.
Remember, your credit score may have a major impact on your ability to land a favorable mortgage. And if you find that you have a below-average credit score, you then can pay off outstanding debt to improve it before you start your search for a new home.
3. Get Pre-Approved for a Mortgage
Pre-approval for a mortgage is ideal. With a mortgage in hand, you can enter the real estate market with a budget for buying a house.
To get pre-approved for a mortgage, you should meet with banks and credit unions. These financial institutions can offer insights into a variety of mortgage options and help you make an informed mortgage selection.
Lastly, as you prepare a homebuying budget, you may want to collaborate with a real estate agent. This housing market professional can help you hone your home search to residences that fall within your price range. Perhaps best of all, a real estate agent will make it simple for you to avoid spending too much to acquire your dream house.
Get ready to buy a house – use the aforementioned tips, and you can establish a successful homebuying budget.
Personal financial in your twenties comes with a steep learning curve. One minute you’re studying for your finals and the next you’re expected to suddenly know about APR financing, 401(K)s, and fixed-rate mortgages.
If you’re in your twenties and are facing these new challenges, you’re probably equal parts terrified and excited for the future. And, although it can be anxiety-inducing to step into the world of personal finance, you have one tool to your advantage that your parents and grandparents didn’t have: the internet.
So, in this article, we’re going to give you some tips about buying a home and managing your finances in your twenties.
Have an emergency fund
You probably have a lot of things you want to save for. Down payments on mortgages and auto loans, saving money for traveling, beginning your retirement funds, and maybe even starting a family; they’re all important investments that will take time and financial planning to achieve.
However, one thing that many young people neglect when they first start saving is an emergency fund. There are any number of things that can throw a wrench in your plans in your twenties. You might lose a job and have to live off of savings while hunting for a new one. Maybe something goes wrong with your car and it costs hundreds to repair. Or, you could have unforeseen medical expenses that aren’t covered by your insurance. Regardless of the reason, having an emergency fund will help you stay out of unnecessary debt.
It’s recommended to have at least 6 months of living expenses saved in your emergency fund. Once you have this amount saved, it’s a good idea to keep it in a separate account to avoid spending it on things that aren’t exactly an emergency.
Don’t live above your means
We all know that buying a house, going to college, and even buying groceries are all exponentially more expensive than they used to be. However, it’s still important to try to adjust your lifestyle to the things you can afford.
This includes the vehicle you drive, the first home you buy, and even smaller purchases you make.
Avoiding lifestyle creep
Related to our last point about living above your means, lifestyle creep is the phenomenon that occurs when you get a raise or a higher paying job: the more we make, the more we spend. However, it’s possible to avoid this trend by keeping your finances in check.
The next time you get a raise, make sure that money is put to use in either your retirement fund or savings account. This method is based on the goal of “giving every dollar a job.” When every dollar you earn has a purpose, you’re less likely to spend it on new video game consoles every six months.
A home showing is a key part of the property buying journey. As such, it helps to plan ahead for a house showing as much as possible. Because if you enter a home showing with a plan in place, you can use this event to help you determine whether a residence is right for you.
Now, let's take a look at three tips to help you get ready for a home showing.
1. Make a List of Questions
A home showing is a valuable learning experience, particularly for a buyer who crafts a list of questions ahead of time. And if a buyer has a list of home showing questions in hand, he or she can gain the necessary insights to make an informed decision about a residence.
Before you make a list of home showing questions, you may want to review a house listing. Then, consider any information that you want to know about a house that is not included in the listing and craft your home showing questions accordingly.
Also, it is important to remember that there is no such thing as a "bad" question to ask during a house showing. If you ask lots of questions during a showing, you can learn about a residence and decide whether to submit an offer to purchase this home.
2. Establish Realistic Expectations
There is no telling how a home showing may turn out. Thus, it is important to plan for the best- and worst-case scenarios.
In the best-case scenario, a buyer will discover his or her ideal residence during a showing. On the other hand, in the worst-case scenario, a buyer will find that a home fails to meet his or her expectations.
Oftentimes, a buyer will need to attend several home showings before he or she discovers the right residence. And if you fail to find your dream residence during your first home showing, there is no harm in continuing your house search and attending other showings in the future.
3. Work with a Real Estate Agent
A real estate agent is a homebuying expert, and he or she is happy to help you prepare for a house showing. First, a real estate agent will offer lots of insights into a home and respond to any of your concerns and questions. He or she next will attend a showing with you. After a showing is complete, a real estate agent will meet with you and help you determine the best course of action.
In addition, when you discover your dream home, a real estate agent will do everything possible to ensure you can acquire this residence without delay. A real estate agent will help you submit a competitive offer to purchase your dream home. Plus, he or she will negotiate with a seller's agent on your behalf to help you get the best price on this residence.
Ready to attend a home showing? Use the aforementioned tips, and you can plan for a showing and boost the likelihood of a successful home search.
You may think of downsizing as something that makes sense when you have an empty nest. Larger families do, of course, need more room. Downsizing can also be financially strategic and rewarding for you and your family if you have the opportunity to do so.
How Much Is Your Home Worth?
There comes a point in your life when the amount of money that your home is worth is very important. Maybe you need the money for retirement and are looking to move to a cheaper city or state. Maybe it’s time for you to pursue your goals and dreams. Whatever the reason, your home is a very large asset.
If you downsize, you’ll have a bit more money available to invest for your future. You may even consider buying an investment property. If all of your money isn’t tied up in a home, you’ll have a bit more freedom to do other things with your money.
A Smaller Home Means Smaller Expenses
When you downsize your home you end up with much lower expenses for your housing. You’ll save big on both utilities and home maintenance. You’ll be surprised as to how much extra cash you’ll have each and every month that you’ll be able to use for other things like investing, travel, or other expenses. You’ll have the ability to do things beyond simply achieve that one dream goal of home ownership.
What If You Don’t Already Own A Home?
There’s a lesson to be learned here for renters as well. If you’re getting ready to buy a home, you may want to think small. A smaller home that can suit your needs will allow you to save thousands of dollars over the life of the mortgage on your home. Remember that a mortgage payment is more than just the cost of the home. You’ll need to include things like taxes, insurance, mortgage insurance, heating, electricity, and more. The smaller the house that you buy, the less all of these things will cost. Think of what you could do if you invested that extra money that you saved on all of these things each month.
What Would You Do With The Money You Save?
Having a big, beautiful home is a fantastic goal to achieve. You may have other dreams that you want to pursue in addition to owning a home. While downsizing isn’t for everyone, many people use the money they save to do some pretty incredible things like:
- Go back to school
- Buy a vacation home
The Negatives Of Downsizing
If you move into a smaller home, there are a few drawbacks. For one, you’ll have less storage and will actually need to downsize your amount of belongings as well. You’ll also have less room for visitors if hey come to stay. If grandkids frequent your home, you may be hesitant to sell and find a smaller place. It may also be difficult to find what you’re looking for at a certain price in a specific area. Think carefully before you decide to downsize and see if it has the right benefits for you.