Although the U.S. housing market is beginning to level off after its rapid rise last year, analysts still expect home sales to increase in 2014. Purchasing a home can be a tiring and time consuming process for anyone, especially first time buyers. If you’re considering buying a new home for the first time, following these 10 tips will considerably smooth out the process, and help you avoid any headache-inducing pitfalls.
1. Where will you be in five years?
The future is murky, and we’ll never know for sure what is going to happen in that foggy land of possibilities. But you can narrow down the potential outcomes. Are you happily employed? How is your family life? How long do you plan on staying where you’re currently at?
Staying put for a few years is important to buying a house. If you’re not able to commit to staying in one place for at least two or three years, you might end up losing money in transactions costs associated with buying and selling your home.
2. Remember the three O’s: Organize, Organize and Organize.
Buying a home is like twirling around in a cash grab vortex booth, except instead of hundred dollar bills slapping you in the face, its mounds of paperwork. From flyers you’ll pick up on the way home from work, to the mountain-high brochures realty agents love to hand out, you’ll be trapped in a white tornado of easily lost slips of paper. Keeping a binder with a rating system that has all of the paperwork you receive is an excellent way to avoid losing anything.
Additionally, if you’re taking out a mortgage, the lender typically needs copies of your last two pay stubs, the two previous years’ W2 forms, federal tax returns and two months of bank statements in their entirety.
3. Check your credit, and look at a mortgage.
Good credit is your lifeline when buying a home. Without it things become far more costly and time consuming. A couple months before you decide to actually start looking at mortgage options, use the federally provided free annual credit check service and verify everything is correct. If there are any issues, they should be resolvable within a month or two. However, should you have bad credit, tackle this task about six months prior to home shopping, as repairing a credit rating takes a lot of time and money.
After your credit is squared away, take a solid look at mortgage offers. Your current banking institution is a great first place to look, as they’re already intimate with your finances, but don’t be afraid to shop around.
4. Research, and then do more research.
Knowledge is your most valuable asset when home buying, and there are a lot of things to look into. Read a book or two about home buying and the process involved, or schedule a free home-buying orientation/consultation with Mr. Nelson Carrillo, your local Realtor® (at no cost).
After that, be sure to narrow down potential neighborhoods by looking at subjects like crime rates, location to grocery stores, work places, hospitals, veterinary clinics, recreation and entertainment.
Lastly, figure out how your possessions are getting to the new place. Are you carrying it all yourself, or hiring a moving company? What will you do with the leftover furniture at the old place? Have a garage sale, donate it all or use a junk removal service? By researching the costs and time associated with these tasks will save you in the long run.
5. Get pre-approved before house hunting.
Getting pre-approval will give you an accurate idea of what you’re able to actually afford, and keep you away from the slippery slope of buying more than you can pay off. Pre-approval information is gathered from a lender by looking at your current and past finances, any current debts and your credit history.
6. Stamp out the lies, and get professional help.
The Internet, even in all its splendor and endless tabs of advice, can be quite wrong. Using a professional exclusive buying realty agent is often the best way to go.
7. Where are the prices? Know your local real-estate market.
Listening or reading national news stories about the U.S. real estate market does practically nothing for you when looking at buying a new home locally. Going back to the importance of number four, research is key here. Real estate websites like http://www.NelsonSellsHomes.com can give an idea of what the housing costs are locally, and offers a starting point when discussing the subject with your realtor or during negotiations.
8. Think about the future: Buy in a good school district.
This is a simple, yet overlooked idea for home buyers without children. When the time comes to sell the place you’re about to buy, families with school-age kids prioritize being in a great school district and are willing to pay more because of it.
9. Avoid the unexpected: Hire a home inspector.
Hiring a home inspector is an added expense for you, however, the upfront cost of hiring someone to look at the home you’re thinking of buying is far less than having to re-insulate the house because of mold, replace over-rusted plumbing or watch as your newly purchased prize burns to the ground from faulty wiring.
Additionally, be sure to ask a lot of questions to the seller. In many states, the laws surrounding forthright disclosure of prior events at a residence can be quite murky, but if you’d like to know the nitty-gritty about any murders, on-premise felonies, suicides or neighborly sex-offenders, be sure to speak up and ask.
Once you find that perfect home, double check all of your finances and make a list of any upcoming expenditures that will impact your payments. Remember the hidden costs of moving like buying new furniture, fixing any malfunctioning appliances, restocking on food and other essential supplies.