It's a great time to start looking for your first home. With the first time home buyer tax credit, buying a home before April 30, 2010 will be up to $8,000 cheaper than buying one after that date. To buy your first home, there are several steps to take.
If you haven't already started looking at houses, try out Realtor.com to see what's available in your area. You can look at styles and colors and layouts and prices. There will be a mortgage calculator there, also, to help you predict what payments will be. It's a good place to get your feet wet.
Once you're ready to get serious about finding a house, contact a mortgage planner to get pre-qualified. That professional will tell you what price you qualify for, within a few dollars what that payment will run you each month, how much money you will need to put down, and if there's anything you need to do to be able to qualify. If you don't have a lot of credit already built up, there are simple things you can do to build credit within 3 to 6 months. If you have small problems on your credit that make you qualify for a higher interest rate, the planner can help you identify those and create a plan of attack to get you to the best rate available (and the most house for your money). My favorite mortgage planner is Caleb Legrand. If you're in upstate SC, there's no one better. You can reach him at 864-569-0741.
When you have your mortgage figured out and your downpayment (if needed) saved, it's time to start looking at houses. A local REALTOR can make that search much simpler. You need to know what general area you want to live in (can be a circle around a landmark, a town, or a neighborhood), how much space you need, and what you are willing to spend. If there are certain other things that are important, like a fenced in yard for the dogs or a garage, tell that to your REALTOR, as well. Your REALTOR will search the MLS and her database of non-listed properties (like for sale by owners) for the perfect house for you, and take you inside several that you like. When buying your first home, don't let the REALTOR schedule you to see more than three or four at a time. If you see more, they will all run together and you'll forget what you've seen!
At the homes, don't hesitate to look inside closets and pantries, crawl into the attic and look at storage space, chat with the neighbors if they're nearby. If you're a tall person, step inside the shower and see if the showerhead is going to work for you. Really check out the house. Don't let the discomfort of being in a stranger's house keep you from looking to see if it will work for you. And when you find that perfect house, you'll know it. No real formula, just a feeling that this is it. It's big enough, priced right, in the right location, it's your house!
I'll blog again soon about the actual purchase process and what to expect. But for now, get started. We won't likely see a better time to buy for 10 or 12 years! And if you need a good REALTOR in upstate SC, contact Heather West at 864-607-1189 or Ty Carey at 864-230-2070. We at Dreamfinders have held the hands of hundreds of first time buyers through the years, and we'll get you there safely!