First-time homebuyers can make the purchase rewarding with careful planning and financial honesty
A glimmer of positive movement surfaced in the real estate market this week–pending home sales increased for the second straight month. Low interest rates make purchasing a home very attractive now.
For first-time homebuyers, the process can be intimidating, but breaking down the steps brings the experience into perspective. Here are some hints to make your home purchase as smooth as possible.
Determine a budget–Be honest about how much you can spend. Factor in expenses not directly included in the actual purchase price, such as closing costs, inspections, repairs and mortgage insurance. Also think about long-term expenses–in addition to the mortgage payments, utilities, insurance, small and large disasters and maintenance can eat up a large chunk of your monthly income.
Just because you’ve been pre-approved for a $200,000 loan at $2,000 a month doesn’t mean it’s a good idea to spend that much. By pushing your financial limits, you could be “house rich and cash poor” or even houseless should your income be severely diminished.
Find a reliable lender–This is important and will avoid unpleasant surprises down the line. For starters, discuss your potential mortgage with a loan officer at your bank and get some basic figures. Ask your real estate agent for referrals. Loan officers who have a good working relationship with real estate agents will be fair and get the loan closed on time. (By the way, there are no referral fees; that’s illegal and a good agent would never do that.)
Be competitive and fair–In a slow moving market, some homebuyers feel that sellers are so desperate to sell their home that they will take any lowball offer just to move on. That can be very insulting to a seller, who may not wish to deal with you. Of course you want the best price possible, but the process entails mutual respect, a reasonable starting bid, and fair market value.
Choose your agent carefully–Not only should professionalism and a great sales record be a choice for an agent, but personality plays a part too. Interview several agents and, all being equal at the end, decide which agent you would best work with on a personal level.
Plotting a methodical, sensible course to home buying with your dream house as the prize at the end will make the process less stressful and more rewarding.