As the old saying goes, “Home is where the heart is”. This is probably why buying a home remains to be one of the most cherished goals by many. But home-buying can be an overwhelming process, especially for first time home buyers. It can be exciting and nerve-wracking at the same time.
Owning your first home is tempting because you dream about it and you would do anything to make it a reality. That’s why many fall into the trap of impulse purchasing without first assessing their capabilities and resources. And this could hurt your overall financial goals.
But, hang in there! There’s a way to make home buying hassle-free. We’ve prepared some steps for you to breeze through to achieve your dream home. This is especially helpful for first time home buyers.
1. Do a personal financial check-up.
Your credit score is one of the most important factors to determine if you qualify to buy a house. You need to make sure first that you’re in a good financial state. Since you are a first-time home buyer with not a lot of credit history yet, you should make sure that at least your bank account is well funded and you don’t have any outstanding or unpaid loans. If there are any, you should make sure that you’re up-to-date with your payments.
There is a guideline that most lenders follow and it is largely based on your financial stability. They need to believe you’ll pay back your mortgage loan and this will help them decide whether or not you’re a risk.
2. Boost your credit score.
Fixing your credit score is needed before setting out to buy a home. It’s important to make your minimum credit card payments on time each month. You should also start to strive to pay down existing debts if you can. Many lenders look at your debt-to-income ratio to make sure you’re not spending more than a third of your income servicing debt each month.
Going from a low score to a high one often takes a least a couple of years. But at least, you’ll be improving your financial position and building good financial habits.
3. Get pre-qualified for a home loan.
You really shouldn’t begin shopping for a house until you know how much you can spend. Pre-qualification by a lender will help you determine the amount of your mortgage, through an analysis that considers your income, debt, credit history and savings.
Pre-qualifying will let you know if you meet the qualifications for a home loan within a certain price range. Getting pre-approved in advance before viewing houses strengthens your offer for when you do find your desired home.
By determining your target loan amount, you’ll have an idea of what your mortgage payments will look like. When you know that, you can then look at individual properties to learn how much property tax and even homeowner’s insurance you’ll need to tack on to each month’s payment. By knowing these things you can better assess your readiness to buy your particular home of choice.
4. Gather all legal documents.
Buying a house is not as simple as paying for the house and then the house is instantly yours the next day. It involves a lot of paperwork and documentation.
Legality is the lifeblood of the mortgage industry. You can protect yourself as the buyer by including key documents in your transaction which ensure that your home meets your expectations and the deal is completed in a legal manner.
Examples of the necessary documents you need to obtain are the sales contract, land title documents, disclosures, and loan documents. The more supporting documents you have ready, the smoother and quicker your home buying process will be.
5. Pick a realtor to help kick start your home search.
Finding the right realtor makes your first time home buying experience better. Here are the reasons why:
- A realtor helps you determine your financial reserves plus your borrowing capacity. Most mortgage companies offer limited choices. So, if you give a realtor some basic information about your available savings, income, and current debt, they can refer you to lenders best qualified to help you.
- They can assist you in the selection process by providing objective information about each property. A realtor has access to a variety of informational resources to the best properties and conditions such as utilities, zoning, schools, etc.
- They can help you prepare. The purchase agreement should provide a period of time for you to complete appropriate inspections and investigations of the property before you are bound to complete the purchase. A realtor can advise you which investigations and inspections are recommended or required.
Considering the cost and risk, it’s just not a smart decision to consider a deal in real estate without the professional assistance of a realtor. So, it’s indeed advisable to get one.
6. Find a home you love.
Location is everything to consider when searching for the best quality home. So, it’s best to research and inspect your future block, neighborhood, city, and region to make sure you are going to love where you will be living.
Some factors needed for evaluating home location include proximity and access to amenities, necessities, schools, highway access, and public transport. Remember, you can change nearly everything about a house except for where it’s located. So, be wise in choosing your dream home’s location.
7. Make an offer.
If you finally found a house you love and you’re ready to buy it, it’s not as simple as knocking on the front door and announcing that you’ll take it. You’re about to make an offer, which can be daunting when you’re a first-time buyer.
The process of making an offer on a home is actually pretty complicated. That’s why it is recommended to use the services of a realtor, especially when you’re buying your first home.
When you want to make an offer, you put it into writing and your realtor will deliver your offer. It can include not only your bid but also additional terms. For instance, you might ask the seller to pay closing costs or take care of certain renovations before closing. The more intentional you are about your offer, the better your chances of making a successful bid.
8. Complete your official mortgage application.
Once you’ve found your ideal first home and have made an offer, you’ll start your journey through the mortgage application process. To make the whole home buying process a lot easier and smoother it can be a good idea to apply for a mortgage in advance. That way, you can be the most attractive applicant to lenders.
9. Let your agent manage the transaction to closing and get your new home keys.
A real estate agent can help you close-out your transaction with your lender. They can ensure that you’re getting the best deal and that you’re legally protected in your transactions. An experienced agent can easily spot unnecessary fees, point out fishy estimates, and help you find better prices for things like insurance.
There’s a lot to think about before you take home possession. Considering the transition when you negotiate the purchase of your new home can help reduce the stress of the one-day moving marathon. Luckily, your registered real estate agent has the knowledge and skills to ensure that the timing of the closing will work for you.
Getting ready to buy your first home is a big deal. It involves a lot of preparation, saving and legwork. Aside from the budget, there are other factors at play: location, insurance, size, people to deal with (agents, lenders, sellers, etc.) and more. With so much going on, it’s easy to become overwhelmed. But with careful preparation and determination, the keys to your dream home can be yours.