Buying your first home is a major investment. But it doesn’t have to be a major headache. By working with our mortgage lenders and arming yourself with information in this guide, you can create a rewarding, stress-free home buying process.
- Determine what you can afford.
As a general rule, your mortgage payment (including taxes, insurance and association fees) should not exceed 28% of your gross monthly income or 36% of your total monthly debt. However, there are many factors that impact these percentages so your best approach is to work with our mortgage lenders to determine how much you can afford. Contact Kim, Tim or Dale to get started.
- Choose a mortgage that fits.
We will help you chose the mortgage that best suits your needs. Multiple mortgage varieties are available. We can help you understand the benefits of your options and select the right solution for your life and budget.
- Get pre-qualified.
Our mortgage lenders can pre-qualify you for a home loan before you start looking at homes. Our lenders will help you determine what type of home loans best suit your situation and will describe the features and benefits associated with each mortgage option. The process is quick and easy. Once you are pre-qualified for a mortgage:
- Your spending limit is clearly defined
- You’re a more attractive buyer to sellers
- You’ll have increased bargaining power
- Hire a real estate professional.
Now that you’ve been pre-qualified, you’re ready to hire a real estate professional. If possible, have your agent sign a buyer’s agent contract. You want someone who works for you so signing a buyer’s agency agreement is critical.
How do you find a good real estate agent? Ask around and don’t be afraid to talk to more than one. Are they experts in what you want and need? Will they guide you through the process? Do they listen?
- Define your dream neighborhood.
How important is it to be near a good school? What about commute time to work or shopping? Do you mind a bustling neighborhood or do you prefer privacy? It’s difficult to find everything you desire, so it’s crucial to prioritize.
- Define your dream home.
Do you prefer a two-story or a ranch? Can you make do without a garage? And if you’re shopping as a couple, are you really in agreement? It’s rare to find a house that has everything you want, so a smart approach is to make a list of must-haves and like-to-haves.
7. Know what you’re looking for.
When you’re touring prospective homes, don’t get sidetracked by paint color, wallpaper patterns, decorations and furniture. Instead, focus on things that cannot be easily or inexpensively changed, like:
- The floor plan – make sure it’s what you want
- The roofline and condition of the roof
- Heating, AC and electrical systems
- Closets, cabinets and attic space
- The ceiling – look for dips, cracks and water stains
- The yard – does it slope away from the house?
- Make an offer.
Your buyer’s agent can help you understand the conditions in your market (are homes selling quickly or slowly?), along with comps in the area to help you determine an appropriate dollar figure for your initial offer. Your buyer’s agent will negotiate on your behalf. Negotiations are part of the process and a good buyer’s agent will help you get the best deal possible.
9. Prepare to close.
Now that you have an accepted offer, there are several things you’ll need to do.
- Get organized – Gather all materials you need for closing including signed purchase agreement and forms from your mortgage lender.
- Schedule the appraisal – Your mortgage lender can help hire the appraiser but you will be responsible to make sure it gets done and pay any associated fees.
- Hire a home inspector – No matter how much you love the house, you need an expert to help you determine what you need to save for future maintenance issues like replacing a roof or water heater. A licensed home inspector is trained to look for things you might miss or can’t see – like faulty wiring or building code violations. An inspection might cost you several hundred dollars up front, but can help you avoid a much more costly mistake.
- Purchase homeowners insurance – You will need to provide proof that you have properly insures the home.
- Prepare for fees – At closing, expect to pay at least some closing costs and fees, along with any applicable down payment. Depending on your state’s requirements, you’ll need to use a certified check or wire transfer (your mortgage loan originator will help you determine the dollar figure and method of payment).
- Close the deal!
Generally, you, along with the seller and realtors, will gather at the closing. You will sign documents and provide your check. When all of the documents have been signed, and all funds have been properly distributed, the deed of ownership and keys will be transferred to you!