Whether it’s an investment property, a place to move and build a family, or a space to grow old in, buying a home for the first time is a big step. It’s both a major financial and emotional decision.
A house is likely the most expensive purchase of your life, so it can be a bit overwhelming. It is totally understandable. To help you feel as prepared as possible and eliminate a lot of the stress, we’ve come up with these tips that should guide you through the home-buying process.
Do you have savings? Calculate your monthly expenses and debt-to-income (DTI) ratio, which should be at a maximum of 43%. It is essential to know where you stand in your finances to strengthen your credit score – this will determine if you qualify for a mortgage. Consider having an emergency fund for three to six months' worth of expenses. When you buy a home, there will be a down payment and closing costs.
Save enough money for a 20% down payment (or more). Your down payment will depend on the type of mortgage you choose and the lender’s terms. Some lenders allow as low as a 3% down payment for first-time homebuyers with excellent credit scores. Also, keep in mind that as a homeowner you will be responsible for all the maintenance and upkeep costs.
What does your dream house look like? Write down specific features and amenities that you need for your ideal home. You can also include the location, neighborhood, and size of the house and lot. You can make a separate list of the home features that are less important, that you can do without upon purchase. This is your first home; you deserve a house that grants most (if not all) of your wishes but be realistic.
Don’t worry about not being able to pay cash for a home because there are a variety of mortgages with varying down payment and eligibility requirements:
By the way, you also have options when it comes to how long you are going to pay a home loan, anywhere from 15- to 30-years.
A mortgage pre-approval determines how much house you can afford. Lenders will take into consideration your financial situation, including monthly income, DTI, and credit score. They will then provide you a statement that you are qualified to take a loan and how much a lender will give you to buy your first home. With a mortgage pre-approval, your home financing is already secured, and it shows the seller that you’re a serious buyer.
Your mortgage pre-approval will give you an idea of how much you can spend for your first home, which will help you narrow down your house requirements. Attend several open houses in the neighborhoods you want to live in to give you the chance to learn more about the area, its facilities, and community culture. Take advantage of home buying assistance programs from local government and realtors.
First of all, hire a trained professional to do an inspection of the property you’re interested in, so you’ll know the condition of your potential new home. This way, you can negotiate your offer with the seller, such as paying for the repairs. You can also ask them to lower the price to cover the cost of repairs. There are instances that the seller will pay some of the closing costs if the offer is right.
An excellent real estate agent knows the ins and outs of the market, finds you homes that match your criteria, and guides you through the entire process. Communicate with your agent regularly. Your home-buying journey will be a lot easier when you’re working with a real estate professional.
Don’t go over budget. As a first-time homebuyer, it is natural to get excited shopping for a perfect house that ticks everything in your checklist, forgetting what you can truly afford. Have enough money for repairs and renovations.
Remember to consider closing costs in your budget. These fees pay for important steps in the home-buying process, including:
Keep the physical copy of your mortgage statements, deed, Closing Disclosure, vendor and supplier receipts, property insurance policy, and other important real estate records. Compile them all together for easier access and lock them in a fireproof cabinet, if possible.
Now back to the first question, are you ready to buy a house? Tap a highly rated real estate agent nearest you; contact us today!