JoAnn Asselin's Blog
Are you thinking about buying your first home but completely overwhelmed with where to even begin?
Buying your first home is a big, and exciting, decision. It’s also one that comes with a big learning curve you need to get down quickly.
There are many steps to the process and even though your agent is always here to help you and give advice it’s critical you do your own research. You want to be able to take action quickly when you find your dream home. To do this you will need to be able to keep up with the process by having everything done neatly, orderly and on time.
So where to start?
Start by sitting down with your budget. What do your current finances look like? What sort of wiggle room for spending do you have? What can you afford for a monthly mortgage payment?
And perhaps more importantly, do you have enough saved to cover a down payment and closing costs? Depending on which programs you qualify for you don’t necessarily have to put the traditional 20% down. With that said, you should know how much you would need to put down and if you have money in the bank to cover those costs.
Smooth out any credit snags. Your credit score doesn’t need to be out of this world, but it should reflect that you are actively improving and financially responsible.
Find a mortgage professional you trust to help you make the right moves throughout the process. Again, you want to be able to take action quickly once you find a home you love. And you don’t want to miss out because your mortgage professional hasn’t prioritized you.
You will also want to have a preapproval prepared, with the help of your mortgage professional, when you are ready to start looking at houses. Having a pre-approval in hand shows your agent that you are serious about this process.
Calculate the costs. Yes, more math! You will want to take into consideration real estate taxes, HOA fees, home repairs and maintenance as you refine your budget to see which homes make the most sense for your lifestyle.
When looking at homes focus on the “bones” of the house. Look past paint, hideous wallpaper and yes even the granite countertops. Are there enough bedrooms? Bathrooms? A laundry room? Is there enough garage space and driveway? Do you like the floor plan? The neighborhood?
Know what’s important to you. In an ideal world, you will find a home that ticks off every item on your wishlist. And not to say that it’s entirely impossible, but know which items on your list are negotiable. Which are you willing to budge on and which are make or break?
Buying a house is one of the biggest decisions you will make in your life, both financially and otherwise. Just like retirement funds, buying a home and paying off your mortgage can be a significant long term investment.
It will take time to prepare for buying a home. You’ll need to build credit, save for a downpayment, and find a degree of financial stability to ensure you can pay your mortgage each month.
This article is catered towards homebuyers who have already met those prerequisites and are ready to jump in and start hunting for houses. For those of you curious about exactly how long it will take from the time you view your first house until you close the deal on your new home, read on.
Home buying by the numbers
On average, buyers can spend 30-60 days looking at homes and anywhere between 15 and 60 days longer to close on a home. Of course, these numbers depend on a lot of things such as how eager you are to buy, how effectively you’re able to work with agents and sellers, and on just sheer luck.
How can I speed up the process?
Preparation is the number one thing to focus on when it comes to buying a home. First, double check your finances. This means taking time to run a credit report and challenging any errors that may be lowering your credit.
Next, take time to sit down and discuss with your family (if applicable) your moving goals. Are you trying to move closer to someone’s place of business or to a particular school district? Having these discussions will make it easier to eliminate houses and to narrow your search, saving you time in the long run.
Before you start looking at homes, it’s a good idea to being the process of getting preapproved for a loan. This can take weeks, so you want to get this step done early to know where you stand when it comes time to start house hunting.
Next you’ll want to meet with a real estate agent who has extensive knowledge of your area. They’ll send you listings that meet your criteria, stylistically and financially.
The offer and closing
Now that you’ve found the right home, you’ll have to enter the next part of the process: making an offer and closing. This step isn’t entirely within your control. Some sellers will delay in accepting, others will reject, and others will give a counter offer. The best way to save time on this step is to give a reasonable offer from the start, showing the seller that you are serious and worth negotiating with.
Once your offer has been accepted, your work is still far from over. There will be a lot of paperwork to fill out, but you’ll also have to schedule a home inspection to ensure there are no problems with the home that you haven’t already been made aware of.
Once all of these steps are complete, you will have purchased a new home.
Buying a home is a complicated process with a lot of opportunities to make costly mistakes. There’s no high school class to prepare you for buying a home but there probably should be. If you’re a first time homebuyer and you came across this article looking for advice, congratulations--you’re already doing the most important thing you can when making a big financial decision: the research.
In this article, we’ll cover some of the most common mistakes that first time homebuyers make when entering the real estate market. We’ll break it down by the three main phases of home-buying: saving for a home, hunting for a home, and signing a mortgage.
Saving for a home
One of the first lessons that all first time homeowners quickly learn is that being able to afford your monthly mortgage payments doesn’t mean you can afford a home. Many first time buyers are often coming from living situations where certain utilities are included (water, heat, electricity, etc.). Aside from those obvious expenses, there are also things like property tax and home insurance to budget for, both of which may increase. Finally, when you’re living in an apartment and your faucet breaks, you simply call the landlord. When you own a home, especially an older home, be prepared to spend on repairs and to start learning basic maintenance skills that will save you money.
The hunt for your first home
Now that you’re aware of the costs, it might be tempting to jump in and start looking at homes. Another common mistake first time homebuyers make is to waste time looking at homes before they’ve met with a real estate agent or have gotten pre-approved for a loan. Start there, then once you know the scope of your home search, you’ll have a much more relaxing hunt for your new home.
Another mistake that first time homebuyers make is to underestimate the time and commitment it takes to find a home. When you work with a real estate agent, make sure you are available at all times. Keep your phone nearby, stick to your schedule for viewing homes, and keep a list of each home you’re considering. Showing initiative and dedication won’t just help you stay organized, it will also show your agent and the home seller that you are worth their time.
One of the most common mistakes that buyers make when it comes to their mortgage is to fail to shop around for a lender. In fact, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau found that only half of all buyers considered more than one lender for their home.
Buyers, first time and repeat, often think their credit report is set in stone. What they don’t realize is that the three main credit Bureaus (Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion) can all make mistakes on your credit. Check your detailed credit reports and fix any errors long before applying for a mortgage to increase your chances of getting a good rate.
If you avoid these common mistakes and continue to do your research along the way, you should be able to save yourself some headaches and some money in the long term.