5 Key Things to Know When Buying a Home

So, you have decided that it’s time to take that big step and are ready to buy a home. Good for you! But what’s next?

Before you hit the web and attempt to navigate all of those home listing websites, there are a few things you need to do first.

Here are five things you should know…so you don’t end up saying “I wish I would have known that before buying a home.” 

Know your credit score

Don’t rely on many of the free websites – they don’t use the same metrics to measure your FICO score. Contact your mortgage lender to help you with this step.

The credit score is a direct reflection of your credit history, which is a financial inventory of things you’ve paid for. Credit cards, past loans, government information are all sources that make up your history.

Other information includes the number of credit cards and loans you have and if you pay your bills on time.

Your chosen mortgage lender will help you understand what you need to work on to boost that credit score, if necessary – and in the end, land a more favorable loan.

Obtain a pre-approval

A pre-approval on a loan will give you an advantage when you start to look for that ideal home. You will know the exact loan amount for which you qualify, what your monthly payment will look like and how much taxes and insurance will be.

With a pre-qualification, the loan process will be smoother and your offer will be much stronger.

When pre-approved, your lender provides you with a letter confirming the specific loan amount you can expect to receive. Showing that pre-approval letter along with your offer when you find the home of your dreams will allow you to make the strongest possible offer.

Know the value of a real estate agent

Some home buyers may decide they want to enter the housing market without a real estate agent. They soon find that there is a lot that goes into the house hunting process – from the research, to the paperwork, to the negotiations, it is a long, tedious process.

A good real estate agent has a keen understanding about neighborhoods, recent sales and listings, trends, crime rates and schools. A real estate agent will find listings tailored to your needs and will understand the lending environment.

Most importantly, real estate agents will help you with price negotiations in the current market and protect you by looking out for your financial interest during the process.

It can’t be stressed enough how important the right agent can be!

Research your down payment options

The down payment hurdle you have to clear may be quite a bit lower than you think. Traditionally, lenders have asked for 20% down, but there are many, many low down payment options are available, especially to first-time buyers.

Mortgages guaranteed by the Federal Housing Administration, Department of Veterans Affairs or Department of Agriculture can be “no-to-low” down payment loans.

In fact, mortgages backed by the VA and the USDA — for those who qualify — usually don’t require a down payment at all. A funding fee is charged on VA loans, but even that can be rolled into your monthly loan payment.

FHA-backed loans are available with as little as 3.5% down. With that said, buyers will have to pay mortgage insurance to help lenders defray the costs of loans that default.

Conventional loans, which aren’t backed by the government, also offer low down payment programs to first-time buyers. In, fact, down payments of just 3% are common, especially if you are a first-time buyer.  Again, buyers really should reach out to lenders that understand these programs and how they work.

Do your home inspection early

Consider getting inspections on the home you are interested in done early after escrow starts to find out if there are repairs needed. This can be beneficial when trying to get a 30-day close.

Once the inspection has been competed, there is less chance at any delays later in the closing process. Many real estate agents are working with their buyers to get those inspections done earlier and earlier to avoid delays.

In Conclusion

Purchasing a new home isn’t necessarily an easy to understand or intuitive process….there really is a lot to wrap your head around when buying a home. Make sure you are aware of these things so you are prepared. And if you have questions, don’t hesitate to contact me!